The setting is like Tarkovsky's Zone, if it were full of zombies; the movie takes place in Prypiat, the rapidly evacuated town that bordered Chernboyl and housed its employees. "Nature has reclaimed its rightful home," as one character describes its now-rusted, abandoned, and overgrown architecture. A gang of Westerners, with a local guide, visits the town illicitly as "extreme tourists," but become trapped there when their ride is sabotaged, many miles from the nearest checkpoint. The movie begins with the delineation of these characters' relationship statuses, and then keeps the unattached ones alive the longest. Why? Is it a parable about marriage, like Chernobyl writer-producer Oren Peli's breakthrough, Paranormal Activity? Honestly, I can't figure it out, and I suspect it's a dead-end: Chernobyl Diaries is a tragic and horrible adventure through hell, a movie about radioactive freaks and face-melting radiation stalking American youths on holiday. Sometimes a great premise, effectively executed in a unique setting, is enough.
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