Chernobyl Diaries was released into theaters today, and the reviews have thus far been pretty poor. I haven't yet seen it for myself, so I'll reserve any judgements until I do, but something pretty interesting just came to my attention* that I wanted to share with you all tonight.
Long story short, a couple of filmmakers from Baltimore just released a trailer they made back in 2010 as a fundraising pitch for a horror film called Pripyat, about a group of people who find themselves fighting for their lives when they pay a visit to the abandoned Chernobyl power plant. Of course, this is the exact same plot as Chernobyl Diaries, which is set in Pripyat, a real life ghost town that's right near the plant. Story goes that the Pripyat trailer was pitched to several movie studios and producers in New York & LA, without the consent of the guys who made it. Two years later, Chernobyl Diaries surfaces, an allegedly original idea from the mind of Paranormal Activity creator Oren Peli.
All I'm saying is, something smells pretty damn fishy here.
Check out a little comparison video the makers of the Pripyat trailer just released, to show the extent of the similarity.
Now I know it's entirely possible that this could just be a case of coincidence, as it's not uncommon for two people to come up with a similar idea for a film around the same time, but I gotta say, this does make me lose a little bit of the respect I had for Chernobyl Diaries going into it. The main draw of the film for me was the setting, which I considered to be a pretty unique and genius place to set a horror film, and now I can't help but feel a little less enthusiastic about all that.
Again, could be coincidence, but this wouldn't be the first time Hollywood stole an idea from an independent filmmaker and proclaimed it as their own. Hate to see that kind of shit happen and I can only hope that's not the case here. Nevertheless, it is pretty damn unfortunate that Pripyat will never be seen as anything more than a ripoff of Chernobyl Diaries, if it in fact does someday get made. That makes me sad.
You can learn more about the controversy over at the Pripyat Facebook page, which touts the film as "the original independent feature" and lists it as being in pre-production, still seeking funding.
Anyways. Will of course be checking out Chernobyl Diaries this weekend and will post my thoughts when I do!
*Huge thanks to Jonathan Drew Kinigson for bringing this all to my attention!!