Didn't we just have "The Darkest Hour" a couple of months ago? You remember, it was that pretty bad movie - set in Russia - about a bunch of Americans stuck in Moscow during an alien invasion... remember?


Well, guess where it must be cheap to film a flick? So here we are back in Russia (actually this was filmed in Serbia) with more Americans - whaddaya know? This time they are stuck here, they chose to go.


Chris (Jesse McCartney), Chris' girlfriend Natalie (Olivia Dudley) and her obligatory screaming friend Amanda (Devin Kelley), Michael (Nathan Phillips), and Paul (Jonathan Sadowski), are bored and are up for some extreme tourism.

Now, according to Wikipeida, extreme tourism is defined as "... a niche in the tourism industry involving travel to dangerous places (mountains, jungles, deserts, caves, canyons, etc.) or participation in dangerous events." This includes doing things "such as flyovers in MiGs at Mach 2.5, ice diving in the White Sea, or traveling across the Chernobyl zone." No kidding... this is actually stuff that real people want to do!


And..[drum roll] Russia actually markets this stuff; in 2011 the Russian government fostered the idea of having firms offer tours to Chernobyl's reactor No. 4 exploded on April 26, 1986 - this is while they also claim it's illegal to do so! Ah politics.


That aside, "The Chernobyl Diaries" follows this group of six bored Americans into the exclusion zone with the aid of Ukranian guide Uri (Dimitri Diatchenko) who knows a alternate route in - after the are stop at the usual point of entry.


They tour the town of Pripyat which was abandoned after the accident. After browsing a few empty residences, visiting the Ferris wheel, playing with the crazy wild bear living in an apartment building, and ogling wolves... they decide there is something else even more dangerous in the town. Something like a creepy crawly.

So, they decide to stay and investigate doing what future victims always do in these kinds of schlock movies... go down into an inescapable realm so they can run and scream and get killed one by one.


Oh, did I give anything away? No... not really. This is as formulaic is you can imagine co-penned by Oren Peli who is better known for his "Paranormal Activity" series. But this time, you can only guess his paycheck was the biggest cost - because it sure wasn't the creature. It definitely didn't cost Warner Bros much money!


This is director David Parker's first job helming a feature length film and he does everything by the book, so there are few technical flaws - it's just a stupid film. On the

hand, it won't hurt any of the actors careers, since they are a bunch of B-listers looking for employment.


"Chernobyl Diaries" has absolutely no reason to exist at this time of the year except to act as a sacrificial lamb for "The Avengers", "Men In Black 3", "Battleship" and every other blockbuster out there. I can't think of any scenario for which to recommend paying to see it.   -- GEOFF BURTON