I will spare you the ‘I Love Found Footage Movies’ soliloquy because I sorta say that in every review I do of found footage movies. I love them, we get it. I just can’t say ‘no’. Even after all the terrible ones I watch, I still come back. And boy are there some terrible ones.
This, friends, is one of those terrible ones.
I can forgive a lot with found footage movies.
I can forgive so, so very much.
Ya know though, we have to have standards.
GHOSTS OF CHERNOBYL finds four friends on a journey through Russia, taking in the culture and scenery and filming everything. The group decides that they’ll end their trip by heading out to Chernobyl, the site of the notorious nuclear meltdown. Along the way the group loses one of their number when they foolishly take a swim in a pond while drunk and as the surviving friends cope with this friend’s apparent death, they also must try to figure out how they are going to get home now that their van is stuck in the middle of nowhere. While running for their lives the trio come upon an abandoned village that isn’t as abandoned as they thought and the landscape, and their luck only gets worse the closer they get to Chernobyl, and the closer to the horrors that still remain.
Man, alive does this film have some utterly gorgeous setpieces. The crew filmed about as close as you would want to to Chernobyl itself and you can tell. Horror films, especially found footage films, don’t often manage these sorts of real-life settings and what you get here is haunting and horrifying and it’s an absolute crime that they couldn’t craft a better film. What we get is an utter mess of a film. This is a film where you root for the characters to die – and I am not the first to make such a claim about this film – because they are all so insufferable. The film is full of obvious choices and trite choices and it is so by the numbers that the only thing we don’t get is a character being dragged off into the distance while on camera – oh, they come close though. They come really close. This is a film where the characters conveniently ignore that one of their number is dead and still decide to film everything, with their video camera AND with their 16mm camera. Seriously? Part of the schtick of these films is that they are always filming and while people give the notion the business, you can find a way to work it into the plot.
You can make it work.
If you explain WHY.
They do not.
What they do is argue, and run, and film, and argue, and run, and film.
The reasoning here is so thin that it hurts.
The ‘ghosts’ are shown a couple of times with no explanation or real reason to exist outside of them being victims of the meltdown.
That’s the thing about the film though, we are shown a LOT of things, many of which could be interesting if thought out, but we are never given REASONS for the things we see. That’s the heck of it, it’s one thing to make a bad movie but another to make a movie full of the pieces that make up a BETTER film and to just push them around and never do anything with them. That’s what we have here.
There are a lot of possibilities here but nothing is done to flesh them out. Instead, we get a by the numbers running and screaming found footage film that has no higher ambitions or interest. They aim low and still miss the target.
There are bad films and then there are films that are just wastes of time and that’s what we have here.
Just a waste of time.
1 out of 5
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