How Real Is Chernobyl Diaries?

Pripyat Checkpoint on Chernobyl Diaries

Chernobyl Diaries is an American horror film directed by Brad Parker and produced by Oren Peli. The film is set mostly around Chernobyl, Ukraine, and features the abandoned housing of Pripyat and the Chernobyl nuclear power station. There’s some speculation about whether the film was shot on location. While it appears to be shot in Chernobyl, for those people who have been to the infamous exclusion zone, it’s clear that the film was definitely not shot there as the details do not match the real-life place.

The Story

Four friends decide to take an adventure tour to the abandoned exclusion zone of Chernobyl in Ukraine. Their adventure turns bad when, after sneaking into the zone, they’re hunted by mutated, radioactive patients of the 1986 disaster. After a short time in the zone, they soon realise things are not right when someone (or something) sabotages their bus’s wiring and leaves them stranded.

Film - Holding Radiation Sign

The Differences in the Film

The film’s adventure starts in a wooded area with the team gaining access to the ghost city of Pripyat. Nothing from the start would indicate this is anything other than Chernobyl, and it’s not until the cast are walking along the streets of Pripyat that it becomes clear that they are not shooting on location.

Pripyat has been deserted since 1986 and as such is dramatically overgrown with trees, bushes and grass; the Pripyat in the movie is much less overgrown. Also, Pripyat is a city which was home to roughly 49,000 inhabitants; though Pripyat in the film has much fewer buildings.

Chernobyl Diaries Ferris Wheel

Chernobyl Diaries Ferris Wheel

One of the most iconic sights of the skyline of Pripyat is its Ferris wheel. The real Ferris wheel was completed and designed for use by the inhabitants of Pripyat (although it was never actually used). Behind the scenes inspection of the Ferris wheel in the Chernobyl Diaries film, the wheel isn’t actually completed; it is just built to a good enough level to take pictures.

Shooting Location of Chernobyl Diaries Film

Rather than in Chernobyl, the film was shot mostly in a disused Soviet Air Force, which would explain why there was a shortage of housing on set. Some of the scenes, where the victims were running through tunnels trying to escape their hunters, were actually tunnels built under Belgrade, Serbia, which were used as Nazi headquarters during World War 2.

When the producer of the film was questioned why they didn’t use the real Chernobyl Zone, he explained that this was due to still-present nuclear dust from the Chernobyl disaster. However, when taking correct protective measures and using an organised tour a trip to Chernobyl is completely safe!

Author Jimmy Ryan