DirkH’s review published on Letterboxd:
I saw this film in a sneak preview so I did not make the conscious decision to watch this garbage, lest you think me insane. I am going to go into this film far too much and write a far too long review, but it pissed me off so much I need to vent otherwise I might have my own meltdown. There will be swearing. Lots of it.
First of all, what's up with the fucking title? It does not take place in Chernobyl bar the last 5 minutes and there are no diaries there. Not a fucking one! We are not watching a video diary, nobody is writing in a diary, they do not find any diaries. What's up with that?
Second, if you take a pretty cool premise like this have it make sense. Apparently going into Pripyat (the town bordering the Chernobyl Reactor) falls under Extreme Tourism. No, it fucking doesn't. You can pay a tourist organisation money and they take you to not only Pripyat, but also to the reactor itself. Oh, don't worry, it's very safe, there are people at work there every day. It's an organized tour. You get coffee and cookies. You can bring your gran. How do I know all this? My best mate has been there. I've seen the pictures. According to this film you need a huge, muscular, ex-green baret, scary Ukranian dude to take you in via some unknown back alley. According to this film your eyes will melt out of your face if you spend 5 fucking minutes near the reactor!! If you make a film like this in a real place do your fucking homework or don't bother! I'm more than willing to put in a hefty dose of suspended disbelief but this film just makes it really hard to do so.
Third, the script is so fucking bad it's just not funny anymore. It is shit put to paper. The dialogue is ludicrous, it's of the 'let's mention everything we see' type. Example: they run into a dead guard. Unknown actor 1 says: 'Oh my God, it's a dead guard!'. They run on, the flashlight goes out. Unknown actress 2 says: 'Oh my God, the light has gone out!'. They run on, the Geiger counter starts to beep: 'Oh my God, the radiation is rising.' I wish I was wrong, but these are actual lines from the film. Apart from this there is just no plot here. A group of generic, far too pretty young'uns go into abandoned radioactive town in Ukraine and they start to die one by one. They make all the stupid choices they are supposed to make and we've all seen it a million fucking times already. It is insulting, really.
Fourth, let's get to the acting. It has got to be some of the worst I've seen in quite a while. It is of the 'I'll just look like I really have to take a piss' persuasion. Seriously. Act scared: I have to pee but can't find a toilet!!. Act angry: Tell me where the toilets are!! Act sad: Oh no, I just peed all over myself. I've seen geriatric soap opera stars act with more conviction. Although that's probably due to the fact that they are really incontinent. The fact that Leonardo DiCaprio's evil twin is in this film is rather distracting, by the way.
Fifth, the direction. There was one person I truly cared about whether they lived or died. Preferably the latter. The cameraman. I don't mind the shaky cam aesthetic. BUT I DO FUCKING HATE IT ALL THE FUCKING TIME YOU FUCKING WANKER!!. Really, there are maybe three shots in this film that somewhat resemble a steady shot. The rest is just a blur of screaming and running people who look like they really want to find a toilet. It furthermore uses all the clichéd half-assed attempts at building suspense that are so predictable it's just laughable. Honestly, it's like: 'Ok, in this scene we'll slowly drown out all the sound. We'll have the main generic pretty boy walk towards a shady curtain and have him rip it open and then.....nothing happens!!!! He turns around to look at generic pretty girl to say everything is ok and then, wait for it, SOMETHING WILL FALL DOWN WITH A LOUD BANG!!! They'll never know what hit them!' Idiots. The lot of them
Sixth, this is apparently a horror movie. Now, with a setting like this you're bound to run into some kind of mutant, right? You know, with the radiation and what not. Wouldn't it be nice if we got to see said mutants? You know, admire them in all their gory digustingness? You do not get to see any of them. Not a fucking one. Oh sure, we see a shadow here and there, but that's it. Isn't the whole point of a horror film of this type to fucking horrify you? I want me some monsters you bastards! The people behind this film are completely missing the point and this just proves that they really don't know what they're doing. In the end this film has no gore, no monsters, no suspense and no purpose.
And breathe out.......