Chernobyl Diaries

  • Review Date: May 24, 2012
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Horror
  • Release Year: 2012
  • Running Time: 90 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Radioactive mutants attack in waste-of-time horror movie.
  • Review Date: May 24, 2012
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Horror
  • Release Year: 2012
  • Running Time: 90 minutes





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Aside from warning viewers not to enter an abandoned area contaminated by nuclear fallout, the movie has very little to say.

Positive role models

Characters argue and make poor decisions while failing to work together. Characters occasionally try to act heroically, but often these aren't the right decisions.


Dead bodies, both humans and animals, are shown. A character has a gory leg wound with a bone sticking out. Guns are fired, and one character is shot. Wolves and radioactive mutants attack. Characters get radiation burns on their skin.


Some sexual innuendo during the movie's first 20 minutes. Characters kiss, and one man plans to propose to his girlfriend. 


"F--k" and "s--t" are used frequently throughout. Other language includes "p---y," "ass," "hell," "Jesus" (as an exclamation), etc.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Characters are shown drinking (beer, vodka) during a night on the town. Some of the characters are shown with hangovers the next morning.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Chernobyl Diaries is a horror movie about young people who decide to tour the abandoned towns near the infamous nuclear power plant. Some of the violence, including attacks by wolves and radioactive mutants, is more suggested than shown, but the movie still has plenty of blood, gore, and dead bodies. A gun is also fired many times. Language is strong, with frequent uses of "f--k" and "s--t" throughout. There's some sexual innuendo and kissing in the beginning, as well as some drinking (and hangovers). Chernobyl Diaries comes from the creator of Paranormal Activity, but it isn't anywhere near as creative as that film or its sequels.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Chris (Jesse McCartney); his girlfriend, Natalie (Olivia Taylor Dudley); and their friend Amanda (Devin Kelley) travel to Kiev to visit Chris' brother, Paul (Jonathan Sadowski). After a night of partying, Paul proposes they take an "extreme tour" and visit Pripyat, the city where the workers and families of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant once lived before the infamous 1986 meltdown. After the tour, the group discovers that the van won't start, and they're forced to spend the night in the spooky old place. Hungry wolves are about, and there's something even worse lurking in the shadows, not to mention the threat of radiation poisoning. Can the friends make it out alive?

Is it any good?


Oren Peli, the creator of Paranormal Activity, co-wrote and co-produced this high-concept horror movie, but he forgot to write reasonable characters or situations after the concept. CHERNOBYL DIARIES is basically a generic "cabin in the woods" movie, in which the characters are not-very-bright young people who constantly make the wrong decisions. The dunderheaded plot doesn't particularly help, as when -- for some reason -- night falls after only a few hours, or things jump out practically on cue.

Making his directorial debut, Bradley Parker chooses a hand-held camera look, as if an invisible friend were filming nearby. This allows for some money-saving long shots, but the camera also ends up shaking and lurching, causing more upset stomachs than the subject matter. Nearly every scary moment is either right out of the horror textbook, or else it subverts logic for an easy shortcut. Finally, there's the bad-taste factor of using the actual site of a real-life disaster for an exploitation movie. Avoid this one.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the movie's violence. What's shown, and what's suggested? Which is scarier? Why? Is the movie scary? Or is it more suspenseful? What's the difference?

  • What do you think about the choice to set a horror movie in a place where a real-life disaster took so many lives?

  • Do the characters make reasonable decisions throughout the story? What are some choices they could have made differently?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:May 25, 2012
DVD release date:October 16, 2012
Cast:Devin Kelley, Jonathan Sadowski, Olivia Dudley
Director:Bradley Parker
Studio:Warner Bros.
Topics:Monsters, ghosts, and vampires
Run time:90 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:violence, some bloody images and pervasive language

This review of Chernobyl Diaries was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Parent Written byParent2Parent June 1, 2012


Dumb, daaa-dumb bumbbbbbb ...... Need I say more! :/
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 16 years old Written byMovie Lover1234 May 28, 2012

Chernobyl diaries was worth seeing.

Chernobyl Diaries is a good movie , however it has bad language including f**k , a** , s**t, p***y , d**m, h*ll. This movie may not be suitable for younger kids because it contains scenes that cause you to jump out of your seats, there is violence in the movie , but it is not to bad , there is some blood, adults drink beer, vodka.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 13 years old Written byTiger13 May 22, 2015


I havn't seen this movie, but I actually studied chernobyl and I know beyond general knowledge of chernobyl. When I grow up I am going to visit chernobyl. I havn't seen this movie, but it looks scary and looks like a horror movie that couldn't oviousely happen in real life.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Digital Compass