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Chernobyl Diaries is a 2012 Horror film directed by Bradley Parker, produced by Paranormal Activity’s Oren Peli, and starring Jesse McCartney, among others. It is based on the book The Diary of Lawson Oxford, also written by Oren Peli.

The film follows a group of tourists exploring the ruins of Pripyat, the town just outside the Chernobyl power plant. After managing to make their way into the city, the tourists and their guide are periodically assaulted by unidentifiable monsters that threaten the lives of all characters involved.


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Tropes featured in Chernobyl Diaries include:

  • Artistic License – History: Despite the Soviet Government's track history of indifference to their citizens, everyone was evacuated from the surrounding area.
  • Artistic License – Nuclear Physics: Radiation doesn't cause the kinds of mutations seen in the film – not to the dogs, not to the fish, and certainly not to people....
  • The Backwards Я: On one version of the poster, which if pronounced in actual Cyrillic would read "Sneyapovul Diayaies"
  • Bears Are Bad News: Double Subverted; the bear doesn't do them any harm. However, it foreshadows the arrival of much greater dangers.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Paul cares a lot about his brother. The whole Pripyat excursion is, after all, a misguided attempt to lighten up Chris and Natalie's forthcoming engagement. When Chris goes missing, he flips out.
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  • The Casanova: Paul. One of the first things he says to Chris is about girls in Kiev fawning over Americans, and he later shamelessly flirts with the (recently single) Amanda.
  • Cat Scare: Double subverted with the bear, as it's not the half-expected small animal, but also doesn't attack.
  • Deadly Road Trip:
    • Well, for Chris, Natalie, and Amanda, it is initially a simple road trip through Europe with an end goal in Moscow. Unfortunately, Paul comes to the scene and insists that they take a short excursion to this town called Pripyat, where, ah, a certain disaster happened several decades back. Things don't look promising for them afterward.
    • However, it is played straight with Michael and Zoe. Pripyat is one of the places they explicitly want to visit.
  • Downer Ending: Everyone dies and the patients still roam free.
  • Dwindling Party: Starts with a seven-man team, halfway through the film, one by one is killed. One seems to survive it all, but it turns out to be a Hope Spot.
  • Found Footage: The group watches a video on Chris' cell which uses the style of Found Footage films at one point, giving the survivors an idea of what they might be up against.
  • Final Girl: Subverted. Amanda is the last to survive and the last to die.
  • Foreshadowing: On the first night, the group hears a cry in the distance. Amanda points out that it sounds like a baby's cry. The next night, they figure out that they are not the only humans in the city.
  • Freak Out: Poor Natalie has devolved to this state when the group finds her after her kidnapping. She doesn't get better.
  • The Ghost: Chris and Paul's parents are mentioned but not seen. From the dialogues, it seems that Paul has a strained relationship with his father, something that is probably related to his choice to settle in Kiev.
  • Ghost City: Pripyat. Truth in Television. Unless you count the "radiation patients".
  • Government Conspiracy: Everyone knows that there was an accident at Pripyat's Chernobyl nuclear power plant in 1986 and that everyone was evacuated, leaving the city empty. What they don't know is that some people were contaminated to an extent that they became, in essence, zombies. The Ukrainian government were able to isolate most of them, but some escaped and are currently roaming Pripyat. The government is still working to discreetly dispose of them, so if an outsider stumbles on even just one, they will be neutralized.
  • He Knows Too Much: Amanda gets thrown to the escaped patients at the end because she knows they exist.
  • Hope Spot:
    • Paul, Amanda, Michael, and Zoe miraculously find working parts to fix their van in an abandoned parking lot. They return to see the van flipped upside down. Chris and Natalie are nowhere to be found.
    • Amanda, while contaminated, manages to survive the ordeal and is brought to a hospital by the Ukrainian doctors. Unfortunately, they decide that she would be disposed of because she already knows too much of the Government Conspiracy.
  • Idiot Ball: After the van is sabotaged, the group sits inside at night with the dome light on. Not only are they draining the battery with no nearby options for a jump start, but make it near impossible to see what's outside, and the light would at the very least attract the feral dogs Yuriy mentioned only come out at night.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: The whole thing is really Paul's fault, but he does care about his brother.
  • Kill 'Em All: Every major character is dead by the end of the film.
  • Last Stand: Offscreen, an Ukrainian soldier has one when he tries to fortify himself inside an abandoned bus.
  • Meaningful Background Event: When Paul, Amanda, Michael, and Zoe are arguing about how to escape while heading back to the van, someone is walking on the far end of the road. They only notice it several seconds later, by which time he/she has disappeared.
  • My Car Hates Me: The reason why they are stranded in Pripyat is because Yuriy's van mysteriously had all its wires cut. It's implied that the radiation patients did it when they were away.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • So your little brother is going to marry his fiancee! Congratulations, now let's force him to go on a tour of Pripyat instead of someplace more romantic, complete with armed Ukrainian soldiers trying to make sure no one goes in, and get him and the woman both killed while you're at it.
    • In fact, everything Paul does makes things progressively worse. When the group discovers Yuriy's mutilated corpse and finds out that Chris and Natalie have been kidnapped, the remaining three urge, nay, beg him to let them be and escape Pripyat immediately. What does Paul do? Insist that they search for his brother. This ensures that none of them makes it out alive.
  • Never Found the Body: Chris' body is never found. The one time the movie seems to reveal it, Paul only finds his engagement ring, then it moves to a Jump Scare. Gruesomely subverted with Yuriy.
  • Non-Indicative Title: There is nothing in this film could be considered a diary, record, or account of any sort. It isn't even a Found Footage horror film, though it is shot like one.
  • Not Using the "Z" Word: The Ukrainian doctors only refer to the cannibalistic mutants as radiation patients. Justified since the viewer never gets a good look at them.
  • Nuclear Nasty: The Chernobyl disaster somehow mutated fish and dogs. And humans.
  • Only Sane Man: Chris, to an almost ridiculous extent.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: Chris and Paul's parents. What is horrifying is that they won't even know about their deaths, since everyone who encounters the radiation patients is forcibly disappeared. On a best case scenario, they would probably be told that they went missing.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Chris gives a merciless one to Paul when the latter tries to dissuade him from following Yuriy. Of course, he is right.
  • Russian Guy Suffers Most: Ukrainian Guy, but still the same either way. Yuriy dies offscreen, but his corpse gets by far the worst treatment.
  • Sole Survivor: Subverted. Amanda is the last of the main cast to remain alive, but not for very long.
  • Was Once a Man: The radiation patients are former citizens of Pripyat and their mutated descendants.

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