Few things hurt me more than getting into a movie, investing myself in the characters and turning off the cynicism, just to have it all come back to bite me in the ass. So is the case of "Chernobyl Diaries."
Let me get this out before I lose my mind on this "movie:" "Chernobyl Diaries," as far as the first 45-60 minutes goes, is a great movie.
The cast has amazing chemistry; Jesse McCartney and Johnathan Sadowski play brothers who have met up in Russia with friends and end up on an impromptu "extreme tourism" trip to an area outside Chernobyl. During this stretch of the film, you get to know the characters, their relationships and learn to love how real they are drawn. Even Yuri, the tour guide, could have come across overly Russian, but is done in a way that you find yourself enjoying the trip as much as the group themselves.
Trouble begins for the group when they become stranded in the deserted city with the threat of wild animals and strange nosies. Over the next day and a half, it becomes a taught, atmospheric survival story with sparse horror themes.
Trouble begins for the AUDIENCE shortly after. When it becomes apparent there is more at play than simple survival, the movie starts reaching into the toy box of derivative bullshit that makes you cringe. The culmination of the horrible descent into B-grade horror is when the survivors make their way through tunnels modeled much like a haunted house. One of the survivors dumps juxtiposition on us like Eric Cartman at Casa Bonita.
(QUICK NOTE: Other than Oren Peli, who I still give innovative credit to, the other listed writers include Carey and Shane van Dyke. You may know them from their work on "Paranormal Entity," "Titanic 2" and "MEGAPYTHON VS. GATOROID." I shit you not.)
By the end of the movie, you can't be sure if the filmmakers are shooting for a twist or if they are just too lazy to finish like an 80 year old man with diabetes on his fifth plate at Hometown Buffet.