CHICAGO – Mention the name Harry Lennix, and images of his many character roles are bound to emerge – Harold Cooper in the TV series “The Blacklist,” General Swanwick from “Batman v Superman” and Commissioner Blades from Spike Lee’s recent “Chi-Raq.” The deeply knowledgeable Lennix brings his years of dramatic expertise, as he directs the Congo Square Theatre Company’s world premiere stage play “A Small Oak Tree Runs Red.’
Film Review: Inconsistent ‘Chernobyl Diaries’ Still Finds Effective Ways to Creep You Out
CHICAGO – Bradley Parker’s “Chernobyl Diaries” has just enough personality, confident technical elements, and outright weirdness to make it a trip worth taking for horror fans. The fact that the parts of the production that undeniably work couldn’t be wrangled into something that’s more competent overall is disappointing but there’s more to like here than one would expect. It’s a bit of a wasted opportunity but it will find a loyal audience who finds it original enough that they just don’t care.
With elements of “Hostel,” “The Hills Have Eyes,” and “Night of the Living Dead,” “Chernobyl Diaries” certainly gets points for wacked-out originality. It’s not every Friday that you see a horror movie that includes a bear attack, rabid wolves, a mutated fish, and something that looks like the creature from “Basket Case” crawling across a floor. “Chernobyl Diaries” is a WEIRD movie and that kind of personality is too often missing from mainstream horror films. The oddity of the horror here combined with some truly impressive camera work which I’ll get too later makes the clichéd elements of the production – characters who do nonsensical things, jump scares, etc. – and the absolutely horrendous ending easier to forgive.
|Read Brian Tallerico’s full review of “Chernobyl Diaries” in our reviews section.|
Chris (Jesse McCartney) and his beautiful girlfriend Natalie (Olivia Taylor Dudley) are going to visit his brother Paul (Jonathan Sadowski) in Kiev, Russia. They have brought along a gorgeous friend named Amanda (Devin Kelley) and the two pairs go out on the town for a night of vodka drinking. The next morning, instead of going to Moscow as planned, Paul brings the rest of his quartet a suggestion – there’s this guy named Uri (Dimitri Diatchenko) who runs “Extreme Tours” and he’s got a doozy of a tourist trap for them. Uri can take the quartet on an excursion to Pripyat, the city next to the Chernobyl nuclear reactor in which most of the workers at the plant lived with their families. Overnight, they were either killed or had to evacuate and the ghost town makes for a wonderfully creepy setting.
Uri takes the four Americans along with two other paying customers (Nathan Phillips & Ingrid Bolso Berdal) to the city, bypassing the guards at a checkpoint who tell them that it’s “closed for the day”. Here’s the moral of the story boys and girls – when an armed Russian guard tells you not to go to an abandoned city, LISTEN TO HIM. While things start off harmlessly enough with a mutated fish and some fabulous sightseeing if the sight you want to see is a ruined building, things get ugly when Uri’s car won’t start. And it didn’t run out of gas. It was sabotaged. They’re not alone.
Photo credit: Warner Bros.