Chernobyl Diaries

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Chernobyl Diaries Movie Poster Image
Radioactive mutants attack in waste-of-time horror movie.
  • R
  • 2012
  • 90 minutes

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 9 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

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 & Representations

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.

Violence

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.

Sex

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

Language

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

Consumerism
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.

What 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.

Wondering if Chernobyl Diaries is OK for your kids?

Set preferences and get age-appropriate recommendations with Common Sense Media Plus. Join now

Continue reading Show less

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 6 and 11-year-old Written byKeegs M December 21, 2016

I Thought It Was Pretty Scary

It's disappointing to see some disagreeable reviews. I thought this was actually scary. The feeling throughout the film was definitely ominous and I had ab... Continue reading
Adult Written byrafael medina November 1, 2015

A sexual intercourse at the beggining of the movie

When I watched the movie at the beggining I could see the actor who is on the floor with two woman in a sexual position . He moves back and forth with the two w... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byHorrorFreakLover November 2, 2015

An intelligent but slightly disappointing film!

Chernobyl Diaries is an intelligent film which includes the real-life disaster of the nuclear reactor in Ukraine, tension is built up through the film but is sl... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old April 18, 2015

This horror movie delivers the chills and scares, with some bloody imagery and off-screen violence.

Parents need to know that this film is scary and contains some disturbing/chilling moments and scary shock scenes which will frighten sensitive teens. It also f... Continue reading

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.

Talk to your kids 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

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

For kids who love scares

Our editors recommend

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

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate