Saturday, May 26, 2012

Saturday: Chernobyl Diaries and More

I figured it out: Dungeons & Dragons Next is making me want to play more Castles & Crusades. DDN, as I read it, is feeling to me to be on about the same level and focus as C&C, which is good....but unlike the DDN playtest doc I've got a complete rules set for C&C. Plus, I'm actually running it (started a new Saturday campaign as of last week, yay, hope my players show up again....)

Why does it say June 22nd? Hmmmm.
So I saw Chernobyl Diaries. In many ways I enjoyed it more than The Cabin in the Woods, if only because Chernobyl Diaries was an earnest effort at using horror scenery porn and mood to build slowly but effectively to a somewhat overdone but still entertaining was survival horror done right, but very simple in its execution and approach, no overarching plot, just some unfortunate people stupid enough to follow Yuri the tourist guide to visit the abandoned city of Pripyat on The Wrong Day.

Plus, if you watch this movie AFTER Cabin in the Woods, its fairly obvious that (spoiler alert!) Russia, at least, contained their Old One for one more season, heh....!

So anyway, Ten Cool Things about Chernobyl Diaries:

1. Awesome scenery porn. Bonus points if you really dig the whole "collapsed civilization/fallout/Chernobyl rotting away" look and want to see a movie set in such a place.

2. Excellent blend of a real world location with an already weird and distrurbing history with the terrifying horror-nightmare reimagining of the same.

3. Good old fashioned survival horror of the doom-iest kind.

4. Learn what would happen if a pack of feral ghouls were loose in Pripyat.

5. Russians are so fatalistic and pragmatic all at once.

6. Yuri the tour guide from your nightmares!

7. Although one would not want to march into Chernobyl's reactor #4 unprotected, this movie dials up the residual radioactivity to some new highs.

8. I love the slow, methodical build through the first two thirds of the movie. It saves the more conventional over-the-top horror elements for last, but really, the whole movie manages to make a threat out of normal physics, normal people and minimal CGI.

9. Excellent, absolutely marvelously terrifying use of real darkness and night to convey mood. No fake exterior lighting here (I'm looking at you, Cabin in the Woods).

10. This film manages to skirt the lines of supernatural, sci fi, hillbilly horror, chainsaw massacre and Nature Hates Us horror without actually being any of those. It also manages to keep from displaying full-frontal monstrosity; you'll never really get a good look at the antagonists.

I don't remember this shot from the movie. Hmmmm.
I only really had one gripe about this movie. I appreciate that it is common now in most genre films to have a bunch of young, handsome college-age twenty-somethings out for a bit of fun which goes disastrously wrong, and I appreciated that Cabin made fun of this trope, but really, seriously....I haven't seen a decent horror film in some time now that didn't start off this way. What the hell!

I see Feral Ghouls everywhere...

But Yuri, for as long as he made it, was a real hoot, lemme tell ya.

Now, excuse me, as I need to go load up S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl, I have an intense urge to playuthat game...


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. More analysis from the perspective of the "Cabin" cosmology (spoillllersssss): for those keeping count, Uri is the fool, Amanda is the virgin, Zoe is the whore, Chris is the scholar and Paul is the athlete. The other two poor hitchhikers (Natalie and Michael)are just extras, I guess (back ups? heh). They received their fair warning at the checkpoint, and the point where they chose their fate was probably the moment in the old apartment when Michael tried to take the contaminated artifact (I forget what it was at the moment).

    Cabin in the Woods is increasingly more interesting in the context of other horror movies, precisely because it modelled the trops and plots so damned well.