Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Chernobyl Diaries ~ A Movie Review

You couldn't get a better setting for the promise of a horror movie than the ghost town of Prypiat, located near the doomed Chernobyl reactor.  

I have a connection with Chernobyl myself as I was living in the UK when the reactor exploded.  Almost ten years later to the day I was diagnosed with a rare aggressive form of Thyroid Cancer which I blame on the radiation cloud that blanketed Southern England.  Whether Chernobyl is to blame for my cancer will never be proven, but I did however survive (so far).  Many of those living in Chernobyl's shadow did not, and those that did have been subjected to the effects of prolonged exposure to the radiation, with the added horror of children born with rare mutations.

Enter one 'Extreme Tour' guide, a Russian by the name of Yuri (of course!), and six young victims (for we know that that is what they are going to be).  For a fee Yuri can get you into Prypiat by legal means, or by his own methods, whichever is required. The tourists may take as many photos as they like but no souvenirs due to the radioactive contamination.  Our tourists are assured that their health is not at risk as they won't be staying that long (famous last words!)

After a morning looking around abandoned homes and buildings, a close encounter with a mutant fish and other local wildlife, it is time to call it a day once the sun begins to go down. It seems the tour has gone fairly smoothly until they arrive back at their van where it becomes apparent that it has been tampered with.  Now the group are faced with spending a cold night, with continued exposure to the radiation, in the van.  Even worse, there is something prowling in the twilight, and it's not very friendly............

I did actually enjoy the first half of this movie.  The set looked very authentic (filmed in Hungary and Serbia I believe) and as my suspicions grew about Yuri (played by Dimitri Diatchenko) I felt my anxiety levels rising as to what he had in store for these youngsters. I was wrong about him however.

What I wanted from this movie were grotesque mutant beings but I didn't get them.  At one point the tourists come across what appears to be a young girl standing in the deserted road.  When they tried to entice her to turn around my heart skipped a few beats, I wanted a 'Don't Look Now' moment:

or a 'Walking Dead' moment:

But nothing happened at all! I felt let down by the whole experience and then I felt guilty about even watching this movie because it just reeked of insensitivity to those who have lived through that terrible disaster.

(The Mutant Fish)

The direction was ok, the acting was ok (Yuri was the stand out), but there were not enough scares or shocks for this horror buff so overall I found this to be an average horror experience.


Friday, December 7, 2012

The Brothers Karamazov ~ Fyodor Dostoevsky

The Brothers Karamazov is the story of three brothers, two women, a grotesque father, an illegitimate brother and  three thousand rubles, set in a provincial town in Russia in the 1860's. 

Dimitri Karamazov was my favourite of the brothers.  He is a 'scoundrel' by his own admission and whilst he has a good, if not passionate, heart he has a temper which prevents him from doing what is right.

Alexei (Alyosha) Karamazov is the type of character I find annoying.  He is too 'good' and kind, (like a benevolent Dickens character, just a bit too good to be true) but I read that Dostoevsky had lost his 3 year old son Alyosha to epilepsy, and so he imbued Alexei with the qualities he admired and, I guess, would have wished his son to have aspired to had he lived.  The author's grief at the loss of his son is also reflected in the novel with the death of a young character, whose funeral scene I will never forget.

I felt I didn't really get to know Ivan Karamazov very well, he is the serious brother who adores the youngest (Alexei) but he carries the Karamazov chip on his shoulder for all to see.

This is one mammoth read, and I did at times feel bored with some of the philosophical passages and long speeches, and I was a bit baffled by The Grand Inquisitor until I read it a couple of times and could appreciate and agree with what Ivan was saying.  But, if you can get past the religion and philosophy this is an exciting story of lust, passion, greed and murder.

I must mention too, the characterisation of the brother's father Fyodor is wonderful.  He is a middle aged wealthy pig.  He is a lustful, disgusting and rude drunk who actually made me laugh in most of his scenes.  He is so vile I loved him! ( I wonder what this says about me, I loved Fyodor but found Alexei annoying? Maybe I just appreciate well drawn antagonists?).

There is a sort of madness attributed to all the characters I have read so far by Dostoevsky, yet you can always identify with them and their self destructive natures.  This novel was planned to be part of a greater work but was sadly never realised as Dostoevsky died just four months after its publication.  I would love to have known what he had in store for Dimitri.