A new trailer has finally hit the web for the upcoming ‘Chernobyl Diaries’, the latest horror project from ‘Paranormal Activity’ creator Oren Peli. The Israeli-born writer/director/producer has spent the past few years largely overseeing production on the expanded ‘Paranormal’ franchise after it was bought by Paramount Pictures, and he hasn’t had a hand in any other original projects (aside from 2010’s ‘Insidious’) until this year.
But the dry spell is apparently over: Peli has a total of five new projects coming out this year, including ‘Chernobyl Diaries’, which he co-wrote and produced. He also made the jump to TV with the ABC series ‘The River’, which he wrote and executive produced; and he’ll be pulling triple duty as the writer/director/executive producer of the film ‘Area 51′, which is currently in post-production. He’ll also be overseeing production on ‘Paranormal Activity 4′ and will be producing ‘The Lords of Salem’, directed by none other than Rob Zombie himself.
With all that on his plate, it’s nice to see Peli returning to his low-budget roots. ‘Chernobyl Diaries’ is a found-footage film about a group of tourists (including Jesse McCartney, Olivia Dudley, and Nathan Phillips) who decide to go on an “extreme tourism” jaunt through the desolate wasteland of Chernobyl, abandoned for years following the nuclear meltdown of reactor four. What begins as a playful (if morbid) adventure through the abandoned city turns dangerous when the friends are stranded after nightfall, and it becomes apparent that they aren’t alone. Someone—or something—is hunting them.
The found-footage genre is getting old, but if anyone can inject fresh life into it, it would be Peli. Hopefully he’ll find a way to surprise and scare audiences without resorting to cliché spook tactics. A twist ending would be even better, though if you’ve learned anything from watching found footage films, it’s that the ending usually doesn’t change: no one gets out alive! Still, Peli is better than most other found-footage craftsmen, so there’s a chance he’ll find a way to deviate from the formula and turn in a genuine box office hit.
The film is directed by Brad Parker; while it’s his first time in the director’s chair, he’s gotten plenty of prior experience on horror film sets by working on the visual effects for films like ‘Let Me In’. Peli had help on the script from Shane Van Dyke and Carey Van Dyke, both of whom have worked on a number of lower-budget direct-to-video releases in the past. ‘Chernobyl Diaries’ will open in theatres on May 25.