Why Chernobyl Diaries was a bad movie

This image is scarier than the movie! By Piotr Andryszczak (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
This image is scarier than the movie!
By Piotr Andryszczak (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
I had actually wanted to see Chernobyl Diaries.  It looked scary.  There were “bad things” in a spooky town that had plenty of reason to be spooky, and it had a certain “cheese” level.

Last night, though, the scariest part was that the dollar theater didn’t have air conditioning.

Stop reading now if you don’t want spoilers – although I’m not sure anyone could spoil it.

That said, here are problems and ways to fix it up if anyone else decides to remake it in 20 years, like every other crappy movie is remade:

  1. They ignored the guns on the mantle – Yuri’s mention of “May Day” and how the people never got it.  Angry ghosts who celebrate their May Day with revenge on those who are alive?  Cool.  Of course, that means they didn’t go that way.  Then a mention of how the people had to leave, abandoning evening with not even five minutes, and then how looters stole it.  Again, angry ghosts.  Hell, Poltergeist had how many iterations with ghosts from Indian graveyards, and you have the potential for a lot more ghosts here.  Ghosts are scary.  Way scarier than a few people who have been radiated enough to become cannibals.  (Speaking of which, haven’t we seen people die of radiation sickness before?  How many became cannibals?  Can we get the numbers on that?)
  2. The movie couldn’t figure out what was meant to be scary, so there was no focus on what was supposed to be scary.  Was it dogs? Radiation? Mutant fish? Cannibals?
  3. Why the hell would the government keep the cannibals around?  Especially if they keep getting out and eating guards? They obviously could capture and contain them, so why not just toss in some gas and kill them?  Are they being kept as shock troops for a potential pending war?  That would have been cool.  But if that’s the case, why not kill those and then make more later?
  4. They missed chances to make it scary – when map was “wrong,” why not have them had been in building that wasn’t built yet?  The pictures would show that they’d been in buildings, had seen things in buildings, but the buildings (at night) were just in construction.  Again, ghosts are scary!
  5. Why the fuck are the cannibals so good with the car?  When the characters have any sort of radiation poisoning, they have vision issues and look all nasty.  If these cannibals are really caused by radiation, wouldn’t they be messed up?  Why would they fuck up the wires when they could have just slashed ties?  Why not have the wires magically corrode or something?  (Again, ghosts do it!  Ghosts are scary! And being trapped in a non-existent time – also scary!)
  6. Finally, my favorite (maybe?) part – a special forces guy with a gun can’t kill the cannibals, but the other characters can beat them off with a tire iron.  Really? Are they afraid of the iron?

I’m sure there’s plenty more that can be said, but I’ve already wasted too much time on this movie.  And too much money.  Sure, the tickets were only $1, but after a drink, popcorn, and cotton candy, we wasted a whopping $15.  Who do I write to for a refund?


Why I Wasn’t Hungry For the Hungry Games – And Why I’m Not Full Now, Either…

I admit, I went into the movie for The Hunger Games not expecting to like it.  So, yeah, maybe there was a bit of dislike there to help inform my opinion.  But I’ve walked into other movies lukewarm and wound up liking (or even loving) them.  Hunger Games was not one of those movies…

Now for the spoilers (assuming anyone could spoil the movie).

First, even if I had never seen any ads – and I’d only seen one, over and over and over again – the first scene, where the 12 year old has a nightmare that she’s picked, and her sister assures her she won’t be picked…well, yeah, you kinda knew at that moment that, yes, the 12 year old would be picked and her sister would try (and probably succeed) at taking her place, especially since we see the older sister bowhunting.  You also know that the older sister will win because otherwise there ain’t much to the movie.

Second, I don’t think I even bothered learning the main character’s name because I just didn’t care.  It was an hour in when I realized that I’d been sitting there for an hour and I was letting the movie play out because I didn’t have any way to get myself home since I had come with a group.

Third, what was up with the tech? Seriously, people, if you can make animals out of thin air, conjure fireballs, and all that fancy shit, then aren’t they *really* the ones killing the kids?  Cause I don’t know about you, but if I’m doing good surviving and someone throws a forest fire at me to force me into my enemies who want to stab me to death…I’m blaming the people who start the fire.  And the screen of a sky?  Yeah, who else thought “Truman Show” gone bad?

Fourth, what was the point of the sponsors?  I felt like I was re-reading “Rendezvous with RAMA,” trying to figure out the point of the simps.  “You need to be liked…you need sponsors,” repeated like a mantra, yet the only help she gets is from the ex-winner (whose name I never bothered to learn, either…a drunk Woody Harrleson doesn’t need any other name, imho).

Fifth, she isn’t much of a champion.  Yes, yes, I know, I’m bad to root for kids to kill kids, but it’s nothing new.  Battle Royale, Lord of the Flies, etc., etc.  Kids killing kids for sport, entertainment, or survival is nothing new in the YA world.  But the main character only really kills three people – one by dropping wasps to do her dirty work, one as instinct, and one out of kindness, since he’s being eaten by the magic dogs they created out of thin air.  (Really, what happened to those foolish laws of matter not being created or destroyed?)  I would have liked to see her really forced to kill someone and then have it change her.  Seeing her going home having had to turn on her “boyfriend” would have made the movie for me.  

Sixth, cinematography.  Shaky cam is great.  Really, I love it.  Wait, no, I don’t.  I hate it.  It gives me headaches and makes me want to throw up.  So the introductory and close up scenes that looked like they were shot by “a drunk holding an iPhone with the video on, chasing a rat who had stolen his hamburger” (thanks, Patrick!), really didn’t do it for me.  And the heavy, heavy overtones of Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery mixed with a nice selection scene at Auschwitz really didn’t help me want to watch the movie too much.  I felt like we’d suddenly gone Sophie’s Choice, but this time I didn’t care who they chose.

I could probably go on and on, naming all the problems I had and the boredom I faced, but by now, you’re probably as bored as I was.  Will I still read the book?  Maybe.  I know that books and movies aren’t exactly mirror images, and maybe the book will save the day.  For now, I’ll hope this was just another bad adaptation that took out the good parts.