By BOP Staff
April 25, 2012
Max Braden: I thought Paranormal Activity was effective with its frights, even if it was predictable. I can't tell from this trailer if Chernobyl Diaries is supposed to be in "found footage" format or not. It looks more like the Hostel series. It does appear to be more spooky than gory, which I think is a strength. But we also just saw something similar with Silent House, and that's not a strength.
Shalimar Sahota: We get the set up, which tells us straight away that what these guys are getting into is a bad idea. We know something is going to go wrong. Something does go wrong. Cue screaming, spooky stuff in the background and someone saying, "Where are we going?" It seems to tick all the right boxes and has me curious enough to want to know how it ends. With the original paranormal activator Oren Peli, hopefully he'll do something different besides killing off his entire cast.
Felix Quinonez: I hadn't even heard of this movie before and when the trailer started I thought it looked pretty ehhh. But as it got going I have to say it did become a bit intriguing. I think the whole Chernobyl idea and "extreme tourism" seems pretty interesting. I wonder if that's a real thing, but I guess not enough to actually find out. I think it has some potential and it looks like it was shot really well too, so I'll probably check it out.
Bruce Hall: "Is it safe?" she asks. AFTER the 5,000 mile trip, she asks this. Of course it's not safe. You're a young, pretty white kid in an Oren Peli production. It's dark, you're alone, your car won't start, there are evil mutant kids after you and that BWOOSH movie trailer sound keeps happening right on cue, every time you turn around just in time to see something slither around a corner.
This looks like it's going to be one of those horror flicks that relies on the trope of attractive young people being somewhere they shouldn't be. The problem with this is that it's already difficult to sympathize with the characters in this kind of film. Spending the weekend at Camp Crystal Lake even though the 350 people before you were brutally hacked to pieces there is one kind of stupid. But a tour of Chernobyl? Where history's worst nuclear disaster left the area uninhabitable for eons? Where plants don't grow and birds don't fly? Really? I already hate these people and don't care if they die. I thought the horror genre had evolved a bit, but apparently not. We're still expected to jump at skeletons popping out of closets. I'm sure Chernobyl Diaries will at least be scary in the superficial sense, if not necessarily the visceral. Meh.
David Mumpower: I think this looks white-hot in that it is one of the best premises for a slasher flick in recent memory. The Hostel theme Max mentions of sexy teens traveled abroad is immediately one-upped by the hillbilly mutant premise from The Hills Have Eyes. This time, the setting is Chernobyl long enough after the events that we can reasonably presume (in a fantastical way) that a new race of evil beings has come into power. Say what you will about Oren Peli, his ideas are the best kind in Hollywood: commercial. Teens in jeopardy will always be the strongest, safest play in the industry as horror films are the cheapest to produce and safest box office bets to boot. As such, they are generally arbitrage properties and Chernobyl Diaries looks better than most. I think this has a tendency to break out in the same manner as a couple of other unexpected horror movies have done in the early portion of 2012. With regards to the trailer, what I especially enjoy is the atmospheric introduction of the setting. Some of you may recall a Spirited Away-esque viral video a couple of years ago that featured pictures from an abandoned amusement park. It was quite creepy. An abandoned nuclear facility creates that same provocative sense of danger. This is the same theme from the 28 Days Later trailer wherein an empty street immediately sets off the viewer’s mental alarms. I desperately want to see Chernobyl Diaries due to the quality of the trailer.
Kim Hollis: I don't really like horror movies, but I think this does look kind of intriguing. There's a decent sense of suspense built up and perhaps too much is revealed here in the trailer, but I think the payoff will come later in the film than what we're shown. I fear it may wind up being too gory for me, but maybe Oren Peli will keep it more psychological. It's the kind of thing I'll probably watch on video if it gets good reviews, but horror doesn't get me to the theater days unless it's named Cabin in the Woods.
Bruce Hall: I was as pessimistic about this as you can be, until I saw the trailer. They changed up some things about the story, mostly the whole part where it, you know, happens on Mars. Of course, considering what just happened with John Carter, maybe that will turn out to be a fortunate stroke of luck. I can't really call myself a huge fan of the original; the years have not been kind to it in my opinion. So, everything about this trailer grabs me by the lapels and drags me into the theater. The plot change seems interesting and timely, rather than stupid. Kate Beckinsale is in it. The special effects look solid. Just the right amount of action. And hey, Ethan Hawke is still alive!
Most of all, I believe in Colin Farrell already. When he looks scared, I buy it. When he beats the hell out of those storm troopers, I can handle it. And he does it without all the smug, unintentional self parody Arnold was beginning to manifest by the time he did this film. I'm in.
Felix Quinonez: I have to admit I was never that big of a fan of the original Total Recall but I loved the concept so I was actually excited when I heard they were doing a remake. And judging by the trailer, I have to say it seems like they got it right. There's plenty of action. Collin Farrell looks convincing kicking ass. The special effects look awesome. I feel like they made it look like they used to try to portray the future in ‘80s and early ‘90s movies but with a lot better special effects. And the cast looks really good too. I'm definitely sold!
Max Braden: Visually, this remake puts the original to shame and makes it look all the more campy. But I can't get behind the remake like I could for the original. 1990's Total Recall was all about summer. It was Schwarzenegger, Verhoeven, and Goldsmith. It promised everything over the top. Premiere Magazine actually made a point about comparing it to action movies with the highest body count. It was an event movie. The remake looks nifty, and I'll go see it, but it doesn't say Summer Event Movie to me like Arnold's version did.
David Mumpower: Based upon the impeccable quality of Fright Night, I am inclined to give Colin Farrell the benefit of the doubt on any remake/reboot of a 1980s film. This trailer appears much more loyal to the source material than Fright Night, as there are several moments here that could be described as old scenes with new skin. Then again, speaking of skin, this movie promises hot Jennifer Biel on Kate Beckinsale action, which is a strong marketing point in and of itself. The problem any sci-fi fiction feature released right now faces is that the tech has to appear significantly ahead of the curve. With videogame programmers, CGI animators and talented YouTube amateurs all jostling for position, this is a difficult task and I feel like Total Recall fails somewhat in this regard.
I do, however, feel that Total Recall is well cast and an engaging storyline that pulls the viewer in and as such I think it could do quite well. I would feel better about its chances if the trailer were a bit more exciting, though. The plummeting aircar is the only moment that grips me, although the initial fight would be thrilling to someone who has never seen the original. Max is absolutely right that this trailer isn’t popcorn cinema-y enough.
Kim Hollis: I have never seen the original film, so I have absolutely no basis for comparison. With that said, the trailer for the 2012 version of Total Recall seems fresh and exciting. Colin Farrell sells it, of course. I am totally with him every moment of this trailer and I expect that feeling to be easily maintained for a full movie. The visuals are fantastic as well, and I very much like the mystery of it. It may be mostly style and little substance, but the good news is that Farrell can often make the material rise above that sort of thing.