So for a Halloween treat I decided to hire a random film from On Demand. Flicking through I spotted it, expecting the usual cheesy rubber monster or bad CGI but at least it was going to be something new to waste some time on.
I didn’t really have a clue about what the plot was, I’ll try not to spoil anything in this review but I apologise if I inadvertently should. Basically the premise is that a bunch of
teens end up taking a somewhat dodgy tour around Pripyat, the nuclear plant explosion is well known so a quick youtube search will give you amply footage (or check my previous blog for more details about it).
For one reason or another, the tourists and their guide go via an alternative entrance to the area. They find themselves bypassing a rather freaky looking fish on the side of the contaminated river and then land in the town. The history the guide gives is brief but pretty much a quick bite size low-down to tell you how it ended up abandoned. Pripyat footage is stunning in this; I thought the location was a great one including a scene where the Reactor in the background is pointed out from a window in a block of flats. There was a little jumpy bit at the river with the fish but it’s not until things start to go wrong that it kicks into real “life” suspense.
Now I know a lot of people love to give massive criticism to the influx of these types of horrors but firstly, it’s not done in that overused Blair Witch/Cloverfield style. Personally however I have to say I liked Cloverfield too, but the camera angles are mixed and the lighting used in what I thought was a clever approach of claustrophobia and strange noises. To begin with it looked like it was nature fighting back, dogs in the area scavenging a rather fun section with a bear and then it started to kick into live going very wrong for everyone involved.
My plus points on the film? Okay the fact you don’t see stupidly created models that make it all too fake, no arbitrary bloody scenes of gore that meant nothing in the face of the fears they were supposed to be enacting. The scenes with the dark lighting and the confusion from their actors when they are without a guide and the slow decline of health of the party all made it feel very scary. (I was alone with the lights out too, go me!)
The downsides? Well I guess some parts of the acting weren’t too strong as I didn’t really get too attached to the characters or their stories. The dark shots got a bit annoying at times as they were pretty dark, I am sure I could adjust the settings on my TV but that would have made the other scenes too bright. The ending felt a little bit rushed but I guess the counter argument to that would be that it was meant to be that way due to the events of the story.
Overall I think I’d watch it again if it came up and I wouldn’t put this down as a bad movie, and yes I have seen some terrible ones. I think if you like that type of film you’ll probably enjoy it like I did but if you are already looking at it from a downside you’ll just pick holes and flaws with it. My opinion for a mark out of 5 would be 4/5 purely because when I watched it on my own I did jump a couple of times and the things chasing them were far more realistic than a rubber costumed robot.