Oren Peli made the first Paranormal Activity for roughly the cost of a new car. It went on to rack up over $100,000,000 million at the box office. When you've experienced that kind of phenomenal success, no one would blame you for taking a break. Just sit back, enjoy your life, and keep cashing residual checks. Oren Peli hasn't done that. Though he has yet to direct anything new, he's been busy producing an impressive slate projects, including all of the PA sequels, Insidious, and ABC's new show The River. And now we can take a look at his latest pet project, the quietly produced Chernobyl Diaries [via Coming Soon].
The Bradley Parker-directed project is actually based off of a script by the duo that wrote the Asylum-produced PA knockoff, Paranormal Entity, which is probably one of the better (take that as you will) mockbusters around (though keep in mind the pair also wrote Titanic II and The Day the Earth Stopped). Chernobyl Diaries stars a bevy of relatively unknown actors (Jonathan Sadowski, Devin Kelley, Jesse McCartney, Olivia Taylor Dudley, Nathan Phillips, Ingrid Bolso Berdal and Dimitri Diatchenko) as a group of Americans who want to avoid the typical tourist traps while on a trip in Ukraine. So naturally they hire an unorthodox tour guide to take them into Pripyat, the city that was abandoned after the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear reactor in 1986. Of course, going into a radiated ghost town isn't exactly a good idea, and what follows is not only bad for their long term health, but their short term as well.
So ... yeah, this will probably be like other recent "off the beaten path" horror movies where the adventurers take a group photo at the beginning of the movie that certainly won't be called back on by the end of the movie when most if not all of them are dead (just kidding, it always is). But, that's not an inherently horrible thing. Movies like The Descent, Urban Explorers and High Lane can certainly offer plenty of thrills despite the familiar dynamic, and at least Chernobyl Diaries looks like its unique setting should pay off in interesting visual ways. But what say you? Are you game for a bunch of dumb co-eds getting picked off one by one in a town that was killed by nuclear fallout? Or will you stay away from a new movie written by a team of knock-off writers and rewatch Alexandre Aja's superb and similarly-themed The Hills Have Eyes instead?