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Chernobyl Diaries Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1:85:1
  • Video Codec: AVC MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
  • Subtitles Color: Yellow
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Rating: R
  • Run Time: 86 Mins
  • Discs: 2 (1 x Blu-ray + 1 x DVD)
  • Digital Copies: UltraViolet
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • Blu-ray Release Date: October 16th, 2012
  • List Price: $35.99

Overall
[Rating:3/5]
The Film
[Rating:3/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:1.5/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:3/5]

Chernobyl Diaries tells the story of the worst nuclear disaster in history. As the event occurs, residents are driven from their home in the nearby city of Pripyat with nearly no time to grab anything. Flash forwarding 25 years to 2011, six vacationers and their “tour guide” visit the same city to explore the ruins of a now desolate city. While this sounds like a fun vacation for the six friends, their fun soon turns into terror after having to spend a night in the abandoned city. It’s after this that they all realize that someone, something is still very much around. What results is a fairly solid effort from Producer Oren Peli, with a few true scares.

Horror films of this nature, you know the kind ‘use the in-your-face’ horror system seem to be churned out left and right ever since the success of the Paranormal Activity series. Some are horrible (the recent The Possession did nothing for me), some are excellent (Sinister). Chernobyl Diaries ranks somewhere in between. The success of the film lies on the sense of horror it creates, and some of the scares did feel quite genuine. No, Diaries is nothing I’d remotely recommend as a fantastic entry into the genre. More it’s the kind of movie you might rent if you have a few people over and are looking for something to make you jump a bit.

Oh and as a side note, this is billed as being ‘from the Director of Paranormal Activity‘. I do understand why Director Brad Parker chose to go this route as I’m sure the ‘Paranormal’ tag will put butts in seats. With that said, I will note that it seems like Peli is attaching himself to anything remotely horror based these days. Nothing wrong with that, but I’m just wondering how much longer he can continue down this road.

Video Quality

[Rating:4/5]

Chernobyl Diaries with a 1:85:1 framed, AVC MPEG-4 encoded transfer. Shot using Arri Alexa, with Zeiss Master Prime and Angenieux Optimo lenses, this transfer is quite solid. The film’s color palette, initially, focuses on a brighter palette capturing the outdoor sequences with a clean, vibrant use of whites, yellows and blues of the city of Kiev. After these moments, darkness makes up a majority of the rest of the movie upon arrival in Pripyat. Even though this is the case, I never had an issue with detail. Character closeups still result in accurate, although somewhat toned down, contrast levels (this was probably done to capture the ‘horror’ elements). All in all, I found this to be a pleasing effort from Warner.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

Featuring a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix, I found myself quite absorbed by this offering. Dialogue is well reproduced throughout via the center channel, with no real instance of drop out. Atmosphere is solid, particularly that of the sequences where the horror begins. It’s during these moments that the sound field opens up, thanks in part the swooshes we hear of sudden move or the quick, camera moves. Screams, and yells help to bring us (literally) to the edge of our seat, even though some of the horror is more ‘throw something in front of the camera’ horror instead of true, genuine horror (but that’s another debate). LFE also is deep and immersive, mostly due to the score by Diego Stocco. Even though Stocco relies on techniques used numerous times over, the low end felt quite real. While the film itself isn’t great in the slightest sense, I was pleased with what Warner put together here.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:1.5/5]

The included supplements are featured in High Definition:

  • Alternate Ending – A rather pointless ending (1:51) is shown.
  • URI’s Extreme Tour Infomercial – This runs 1:19 and is a basic commercial hosted by the tour guide.
  • Chernobyl Conspiracy Viral Video – Running 2:25, this serves as a sort of ‘expose’ look into the disaster itself.
  • Additional Scene – A very brief (0:49) scene is shown.
  • UltraViolet – As with nearly all Warner releases, we’re given an UltraViolet Digital Copy of the film, which is compatible with Android, iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3/5]

While I wasn’t overly enthralled by Diaries, I will admit that some of the scares found here did feel quite real. Warner’s Blu-ray for the film features a fine technical presentation on both fronts, but severely lacks in the features department. On the purchase front, I guess it depends on how much you enjoyed this one. Personally, I’d say rent this one.

Additional Screen Captures

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Overall
[Rating:3/5]
The Film
[Rating:2/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:2.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:1.5/5]

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for posting this very thorough review of the Chernobyl Diaries Blu-ray, Brendan. I enjoyed the Paranormal Activity movies, and the location of Chernobyl Diaries sounded cool, so I thought I would check it out. I am having a few of my coworkers from DISH over a little horror movie marathon this weekend. Everyone is going to bring a different movie and some grub. I just added Chernobyl Diaries to the top of my Blockbuster @Home rental queue and I should have it in time for our little get together. If it’s as good as the Paranormal Activity series I will probably run out and buy the Blu-ray.

  2. TomasHunter,

    Thanks for the kind words, my friend.

    Speaking on the Paranormal series, I’d rank them (in terms of effectiveness of the horror): 1, 3, 4, 2. Yes, I saw ‘4’ a few weeks ago and, while I definitely did jump a few times, I strongly feel the series is really reaching. I’m curious to see if audiences will agree.

    Thanks again, and thanks for reading. :)

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