When I first heard about the premise of Chernobyl Diaries I was like Channing Tatum in 21 Jump Street: "F*ck science!" Honestly extreme tourism? People pay for a trip to Pripyat — an abandoned city near the site of one of the worst nuclear disaster in history — for some vacation photos? Well it is possible and people actually do it despite the lingering radiation and other serious dangers but hopefully none of them are as painfully dumb as the characters in Diaries.
Jesse McCartney is Chris the sensible little brother who really would have preferred to stick with the plan: a day trip to Moscow where he'd pop the question to his girlfriend Natalie (Olivia Dudley). His older brother Paul (Jonathan Sadowski) is a bit of a bad boy horndog with a taste for adventure who insistst they and their recently dumped friend Amanda (Devin Kelly) go on an exciting trip to Pripyat instead. Amanda is also a photographer of sorts because she has a fancy camera and is taking photos of everything. Other than that we know almost nothing about any of the characters (although Paul does note that "the chicks are f*cking amazing"). They are later joined by Michael (Nathan Phillips) and Zoe (Ingrid Bolsø Berdal) who prove to be equally forgettable.
Paul knows how to party so he leads Chris Natalie and Amanda to a sketchy office to set up their trip to Pripyat. The tour guide is named what else Yuri (Dimitri Diatchenko) and he even has a dingy sign on the wall that reads "Yuri's Extreme Travel" and lots of photos of him in military garb. He's built like a brick house — but he's no match for the ridiculousness that awaits them.
The build-up to what they do find is interminable especially given what non-horrors await. At one point I was hoping it would turn out to be something similar to The Happening but no such luck. Just a bunch of bald zombie-types lurking in the mist and gnawing on human flesh! Although there's something to be said for leaving scary stuff lurking in the shadows it's also a good idea to establish enough tension beforehand so that we actually care about what is supposed to be scaring us.
According to writer/producer Oren Peli a good deal of the dialogue was improvised which is a bit of a relief as the actors drop gems like "What exactly happened in Chernobyl?" and "Nature has reclaimed its rightful home " as well as tidbits like "Stop being a p*ssy" and "Maybe there's a gun in here!" This is director Bradley Parker's first feature and although he does occasionally have trouble keeping the camera steady he doesn't rely on shaky-cam "found footage " for the most part.
Naturally some people are offended that filmmakers would use a human tragedy as the backdrop of a horror movie but plenty of movies use tragic events for fodder. They should be more offended that it's just so boring.
“God grant me the serenity to...fuck it.” -Andy
S4E3: I think True Blood is developing a tone problem. Well, it’s always had something of a tone problem, but at the moment it’s far more pronounced. Most of the time, True Blood decides that it’s an absurd supernatural romance, with a good dose of humor. And when True Blood decides to do this, it tends to be pretty fun. This was the show it decided to be with Sookie’s plot, in which she babysits for Eric, who seems to have lost his shirt along with his memory. Amnesia Eric turns out to be a far more mellow version than his viking counterpart, though he’s developed the unfortunate habit of eating people to death. I’d be more upset if it wasn’t just Sookie’s fairy godmother, who hasn’t really done much of anything except speak in an undefined accent. Pam shows up in an amazing red dress to convince Sookie to keep Eric at her place, but Sookie runs to Brawny man to ask for help. It turns out that her flanneled hunk has gotten back together with Debbie Pelt, his unstable ex who tried to kill Sookie last season. I understand Sookie’s sensible concerns, but if I had an amnesiac, floppy-haired Eric living in my basement, I wouldn’t be quite so eager to get rid of him.
Also on True Blood: Harlequin Romance, Lafayette, Tara and Jesus form a mildly incompetent scooby gang. Lafayette tries to explain to the idiot coven (who automatically lose the episode for invoking Godwin’s Law and calling Eric a Nazi) how dangerous Eric is, but they seem disinclined to take him seriously. After a painfully awkward “bonding” conversation in which Rutina Wesley and Kevin Alejandro try to hard to sell that they are friends having a good time, Lafayette goes to Fangtasia to try to talk Eric out of murdering them. Instead, they find Pam, who demands that they bring them the leader of their coven (who is apparently convening with the forces from hell off the clock as well) within 24 hours. Is it just me, or is Lafayette constantly getting stuck doing vampire bitch-work? If anyone needs to move out of town, it’s him.
“I will give you twenty-four hours to deliver this witch to me, or I will personally eat, fuck and kill each one of you." -Pam
Ep. 40 Preview
However, sometimes True Blood decides that it isn’t a sexy supernatural comedy, and that’s where we start really running into problems. It’s okay in Bill’s political plotline this week, where Bill decides to become friends-with-benefits with the real-estate agent from the first episode. It’s better than okay in Jessica’s plot, where she deals with her burgeoning marital problems by erasing Hoyt’s memory. It’s not okay in Terry and Arlene’s plot, where we get another of what feels like 300 scenes of Arlene staring at her baby and freaking out, and in Tommy’s story, where he starts planning on stealing from Hoyt’s terrible mother. It’s certainly not okay in Andy’s plot, where he pulls a gun on Sam while high on V. None of these stories are interesting, and none have any connection to the “main” plot, however tenuous that main plot may be. True Blood’s large ensemble has been more a curse than a blessing for a long time now, and the writers are clearly struggling with giving them all something to do. It may be that all of these plots pull together brilliantly at the end of the season, but there’s only so long we can wait for that to happen. And judging from their track record in the past, odds aren’t looking good.
“I am happy, Jess. How could I not be happy, being with you?” -Hoyt
Ep. 39 Clip - Crystal Comforts Jason
The most serious tonal problem True Blood faces, however, comes from Jason’s story line. From time to time, True Blood tries to be a more straightforward horror show, and it almost always fails. Not that it isn’t scary, necessarily, but because it almost always heads towards the realm of sexual horror. 90 percent of the time, on the True Blood: Like Twilight, But Fewer Mormons show, sex is treated as a fun, lurid, and exciting. But when they try to do horror, and include acts of sexual violence like Jason’s rape in this episode, or last season’s storyline with Tara and Franklin, it lacks gravity and draws unfortunate comparisons. Sookie’s line early in the episode that Eric “fang-raped” her is more or less immediately dismissed with a brief “oh, sorry”, and then juxtaposed with her brother’s sexual rape at the hands of the were-jaguars later in the episode. There are shows that have dealt with a main character’s rape with great sensitivity and consideration, like Treme, but I seriously doubt that True Blood will do the same. Odds are, like every other physical and mental abuse that Jason has been put through over the years, he’ll be sad for an episode, and then it will be forgotten. Since True Blood isn’t likely to commit to exploring these issues in depth, then why bother opening the can of worms?
I have to admit to enjoying amnesiac Eric. Particularly his frequent confused apologies.
Who decided to give Arlene’s terrifying demon baby the terrifying demon doll? Next thing you know, they’ll hire a young, pale girl with long black hair that hangs down in front of her face as a babysitter.
Jesus' coven is enjoyably dumb. Mostly for the moment that one of them says that Eric "looks kind of Aryan", and Lafayette rolls his eyes so hard that people in China can feel the sass.
The glimpse of Bill as vampire king was interesting. You have to wonder what kind of ruler he's going to be.