Blu-ray Review “The Vampire Diaries: The Eighth and Final Season”

Actors: Paul Wesley, Ian Somerhalder, Kat Graham, Candice King, Zach Roerig
Producers: Kevin Williamson, Julie Plec, Leslie Morgenstein, Caroline Dries
Number of discs: 3
Studio: Warner Brothers
Release Date: June 13, 2017
Run Time: 704 minutes

Season: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2 out of 5 stars

When Nina Dobrev left “The Vampire Diaries” after season six, I had a feeling this show would die off quick. Well kudos to them for lasting eight seasons. This final season is luckily the last and not the greatest either. I felt like these characters lost me personally after the fifth season when Dobrev was even still in the show. They try and end all open stories well but honestly wasn’t a grand finale. Unfortunately, the worse spin-off, “The Originals” is still going and has been renewed again. Guess New Orleans is cooler.

Official Premise: In Season Eight, we find Damon (Ian Somerhalder) and Enzo (Michael Malarkey) continuing on their killing spree, both following the commands of a sinister and unnatural force. While Bonnie (Kat Graham), Stefan (Paul Wesley) and Caroline (Candice King) are grieving their loss, they team up to investigate who or what may be the cause of their disappearance at the end of season seven. Alaric (Matt Davis) joins the search and continues to look for clues on how they escaped the Armory vault, and Matt’s (Zach Roerig) family history will reveal a deeper connection to Mystic Falls and how he may be able to save the town from destruction.

Warner Brothers delivers this film as a combo pack with a Blu-ray + UltraViolet digital copy incliuded. “The Vampire Diaries: The Eighth and Final Season” Blu-ray features solid audio and video as it has with the previous seasons as well. The 1080p transfer with DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track works great with the season and the television series.

The special features are a letdown for sure, especially for the final Blu-ray release. (Unless they are planning a big box set with all eight in the future, I am sure they are). There are three featurettes and some deleted scenes. Included are “Last Days As A Vampire”, “The Vampire Diaries: Forever Yours” which is a retrospective special as well as the 2016 Comic-Con Panel. No commentary tracks for the final season.

Blu-ray Review “The Vampire Diaries: The Complete Sixth Season”

Starring: Nina Dobrev, Paul Wesley, Ian Somerhalder
Number of discs: 3
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: Warner Home Video
Release Date: September 1, 2015

Season: 3 out of 5 stars
Season: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extra: 3 out of 5 stars

I have been a long time fan of “The Vampire Diaries” since the first episode but since season five, I feel like it is losing me quickly with each new episode. I am tired of how they keep killing people off and then immediately bringing them back (*cough Bonnie cough*). This season is a big one for the show though since it is the final season with Nina Dobrev, the lead of the show, who is not returning for season seven. Honestly, this season was a bit shocking and definitely an improvement from the last. I am very curious now for season seven, and how they are going to continue this show without her.

Official Premise: The Vampire Diaries continues for a sixth season with delicious drama to sink your teeth into. Last season, after a passionate summer with Damon, Elena headed to Whitmore College with Caroline, not knowing Bonnie sacrificed her life for Jeremy’s. Meanwhile, Stefan and Caroline’s friendship deepened as they stood up to the Travelers, a nomadic witch tribe driven to strip Mystic Falls of magic and cast out its supernatural residents. In the shocking season finale, Damon, fearing he would lose his loved ones on the crumbling Other Side, made a huge sacrifice to bring them all back – with catastrophic and heartbreaking results. Season six follows the characters’ journey back to each other as they explore the duality of good versus evil inside themselves.

The Blu-ray comes with a Digital HD copy. The 1080p transfers are solid and the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 tracks work well with the show. The special features are decent and worth checking out if you enjoy the show. “The Vampire Diaries: Good Bite and Good Luck” is final farewell to Nina Dobrev. “The Vampire Diaries: Best.Reaction.Ever.” include fan reactions from social media to seasons important moments. There is also the “The Vampire Diaries: 2014 Comic-Con Panel” included. As well as a PSA “Come Visit Georgia”, some deleted scenes and a gag reel included.

Blu-ray Review “The Vampire Diaries: The Complete Fifth Season”

Starring: Nina Dobrev, Paul Wesley, Ian Somerhalder, Kat Graham, Steven R. McQueen, Candice Accola
Studio: Warner Home Video
Release Date: September 9, 2014
Rated TV-14
Run Time: 968 minutes

Season: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Me and “The Vampire Diaries” kind of have a love/hate relationship for the last five seasons, I have been back and forth with it. I always say that I am done with this show yet we still find ourselves watching it. I blame Iam Somerhalder for being so damn cool! 😉 This fifth season is honestly starting the final approach for me. There is so much going on…there are too many doppelganger and the focus is just everywhere. I think this might be my last season…this time I mean it (I think…maybe…we’ll see). This show has definitely jumped the shark and but  it still has done better than its spin-off, “The Originals”, which flopped right from the first season. Still, if you love the show, season six is coming around the corner any day now, so get ready for more confusing vampire drama.

Official Premise: After a sizzling summer with Damon, Elena leaves Mystic Falls for Whitmore College and moves into a dorm with Caroline as her roomie, ready for new adventures and new friends. But dark thoughts gnaw at Elena, and soon familiar faces are back in the girls’ lives. There’s Stefan with his shadow self, Silas, plus Katherine, with a diabolical agenda and a jaw-dropping transformation. As the doppelgangers test destiny, pitting the Salvatore brothers against each other, the student body count rises — evidence of powerful forces on campus. The struggle later continues between the mysterious Travelers, new witches and our favorite vampires, fighting for their own survival and, ultimately, the fate of Mystic Falls.

Despite the season itself, Warner Bros has been giving this series solid Blu-ray and this one is no different. It comes as a combo pack with Blu-ray + DVD + UltraViolet. The 1080p transfer work with the style of the show as does the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 with all its trendy Hot Topic style music. The special features are decent but nothing amazing at all. There is “Reinvention: To The Other Side and Back” shows fans about the mystery of the “other side”. “I Know What You Did …In the Last 100 Episodes” is a glorified pop quiz feature. “A Day in the Afterlife” does behind-the-scenes with Graham, but is nothing special. Lastly there is a gag reel and some deleted scenes included.

The Vampire Diaries: Official Convention Invades Florida this Weekend!

Returning to the great city of Orlando and the beautiful host hotel for our 2nd annual area convention devoted to the super-hot performers and amazing on-going story of the CW’s THE VAMPIRE DIARIES! Last year was an awesome time with Ian and Paul and the rest of our celebrity guests and was packed with sold out support of our fellow fans! As the only “official” event for The Vampire Diaries we are proud to be licensed by Warner Bros.TV and this allows us to provide YOU with the absolute best time and of course we can offer official exclusive souvenir merchandise that we know you will love.

ORLANDO, FLORIDA
Sat. & Sun
December 14-15, 2013

The Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista
1751 Hotel Plaza Blvd.
Lake Buena Vista, Florida 32830


Scan this QR code, visit your smartphone’s app store, or click here: http://bloodhound.com/events/87749 to download the free Bloodhound App (iPhone, Android, HTML5). Click on the “The Vampire Diaries Orlando 2013”event to have mobile access to:

  • General convention information
  • The full schedule (uploaded the Wednesday before the event)
  • Map of the hotel
  • Social networking (sign-in through Facebook) and follow our Twitter stream
  • And much more!

Win Tickets to Creation Entertainment’s “The Vampire Diaries” Official Convention in Orlando, FL [ENDED]

THIS GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED AND WINNERS HAVE BEEN NOTIFIED VIA EMAIL. PLEASE CHECK BACK EACH WEEK FOR NEW GIVEAWAYS!

Creation Entertainment’s The Vampire Diaries Official Convention will come to Orlando December 8 -9 at The Hilton Walt Disney World Resort, 1751 Hotel Plaza Blvd., Lake Buena Vista, 32830. Media Mikes is proud to be teaming up with Creation Entertainment in order to giveaway 10 pairs of GA tickets for the weekend. If you would like to enter for your chance to win one of these great prizes, please leave us a comment below or send us an email indicating your favorite Vampire Diaries character. This giveaway will remain open until December 5th at Noon, Eastern Time. One entry per person, per household. All other entries will be considered invalid. Media Mikes will randomly select winners. Winners will be alerted via email.

The romantic and suspenseful drama of the giant CW hit series The Vampire Diaries has given television viewers fantastic new stars that have seductively garnered a worldwide following of passionate fans. For well over 40 years Creation Entertainment has been “on the road” presenting the very best in fan conventions. Founded in 1971 by two sci-fi and comic book fans, Creation Entertainment brings audiences the live excitement of meeting the performers we all love to watch to cities throughout North America. Following in the footsteps of Creation Conventions dedicated to Star Trek, The X-Files, Supernatural, Stargate, Star Wars, Xena, Lord of the Rings, Twilight, Supernatural and so many more, we are thrilled to add The Vampire Diaries to this prestigious list.

Make your plans NOW to be part of the action of The Vampire Diaries: The Official Convention Tour: we promise a professionally run event mixed with our fannish side as well. The perfect combination for providing YOU with the time of your life! And don’t forget the famous “Creation difference”: we do not sell ONE ticket above the amount of seating in the main theatre so EVERYONE who buys any admission ticket sees ALL THE STARS on stage! No waiting on line to get into the theatre, no worries, all at a price that beats all other forms of live entertainment!

And, as a special plus, we are selecting beautiful hotel venues in grand locations for these conventions since we know so many fans will be traveling in to enjoy the festivities! Orlando in December fits the bill perfectly so make sure to try to leave time to see all the sites and attractions of one of the world’s most fun locations! We’re virtually next door to Disney World…. join us to for a fabulous weekend!

Click here for the official press release for the event and future details including tickets

“The Vampire Diaries” Official Convention Comes to Orlando for the First Time December 8 and 9th

Creation Entertainment’s The Vampire Diaries Official Convention will come to Orlando December 8 -9 at The Hilton Walt Disney World Resort, 1751 Hotel Plaza Blvd., Lake Buena Vista, 32830.

The romantic and suspenseful storylines of The CW’s mega-hit series The Vampire Diaries (Thursdays 8/7c), from Warner Bros. Television, have introduced television viewers to fantastic breakout stars who have seductively attracted a worldwide following of passionate fans. This weekend event is dedicated to putting fans in the middle of all The Vampire Diaries action.

Throughout the weekend, on stage celebrity guests from The Vampire Diaries will include:  on Saturday, Michael Trevino (Tyler Lockwood), Steven R. McQueen (Jeremy Gilbert), Todd Williams (Connor Jordan) and Nathaniel Buzolic (Kol); on Sunday, Ian Somerhalder (Damon Salvatore), Paul Wesley (Stefan Salvatore), Torrey DeVitto (Dr. Meredith Fell) and Robert Ri’chard (Jamie).

Hosting this weekend’s show will be Hannah and Hilly Hindi and guests from the The Hillywood Show, a YouTube hit who are known for their hilarious spoofs from various movies.  They will also be performing skits, posing for photos and adding to the weekend of fun!

The fun will be kicked up a notch with the Saturday Night The Vampire Diaries Decade Dance, Cocktail Party and Centerpiece Contest where attendee can have a night of fun featuring music, dancing, contest and celebrities. A separate ticket is required for this event.

In addition to celebrity appearances, the non-stop auditorium show will include costume and trivia contests, no minimum bid auctions of unique collectibles and one-of-a-kind items, and previews of upcoming sci-fi television shows and motion pictures.

Limited tickets are available in advance or at the door starting at $25 on Saturday and $45 on Sunday.  Tickets for the Saturday Night Cocktail Party are $79.  Show hours are Saturday, 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM and Sunday, 9:45 AM – 7:00 PM.

For further information, call Creation Entertainment,

818/409-0960, or visit our website at www.TheVampireDiariesConvention.com

About THE VAMPIRE DIARIES Television Series

Now in its third season, THE VAMPIRE DIARIES is the story of two vampire brothers obsessed with the same beautiful girl, who are battling to control the fate of an entire town. Based on the best-selling book series by L.J. Smith, THE VAMPIRE DIARIES stars Nina Dobrev (upcoming The Killing Game), Paul Wesley (Fallen), Ian Somerhalder (Lost), Steven R. McQueen (Everwood), Kat Graham (Honey 2), Candice Accola (Juno), Zach Roerig (Friday Night Lights), Michael Trevino (Cane), Matt Davis (Blue Crush) and Joseph Morgan (Ben Hur). Produced by Bonanza Productions Inc., Outerbanks Entertainment and Alloy Entertainment in association with Warner Bros. Television and CBS Television Studios, the series was developed by Kevin Williamson (the Scream films, Dawson’s Creek) and Julie Plec (Kyle XY), who serve as executive producers along with Leslie Morgenstein (Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars) and Bob Levy (Gossip Girl).
About Warner Bros. Consumer Products

Warner Bros. Consumer Products, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company, is one of the leading licensing and retail merchandising organizations in the world.
About Creation Entertainment, Inc.

Creation Entertainment produces events and merchandise for fans of genre films and television.  Founded in 1971 the company has promoted over 2,000 conventions for fans of popular properties including Twilight, The Lord of the Rings, Star Trek, Star Wars, The X-Files, and Stargate.

THE VAMPIRE DIARIES and all related characters and elements are trademarks of and © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

 

Blu-ray Review “Chernobyl Diaries”

Actors: Jonathan Sadowski, Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, Jesse McCartney, Nathan Philips
Directors: Brad Parker
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: Warner Home Video
Release Date: October 16, 2012
Run Time: 86 minutes

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

When I first heard about “Chernobyl Diaries”, I thought it was just another Summer horror movie.  Then I saw that it came out of Oren Peli, the man behind “Paranormal Activity”, I became immediately interested. He serves as both co-writer and producer and this film. and the man known how to do reality-horror right! “Chernobyl Diaries” is not another found-footage film though and takes a different (and cool) route from the “Paranormal” series.  There are a few good jumps here and thought harshly criticized during its theatrical release is not as bad as everyone says.  Good watch for Halloween season.

Another cool aspect of this film is where it was shot, this they were unable to film in the real Pripyat since there is still-present nuclear dust from the Chernobyl disaster, they shot in  abandoned an Soviet Air Force Base and in underground tunnels used as Nazi headquarters in World War II under Belgrade, Serbia.  We also had the chance to chat interview quite a few people from this film including the director Brad Parker, co-writer/producer Oren Peli and star Jonathan Sadowski.  Click on their respective names, if you want to hear the inside scoop about the film.

Warner Bros’ delivers a really nice release, within its Blu-ray/DVD/UltraViolet Digital Copy combo pack.  The film looks sharp in its 1080p transfer in its 1.85:1 original aspect ratio.  This works really well with the film’s locations as well.  The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track works well with the score and the suspense. The special features on the disc are decent overall.  The main extra here is the alternate ending, which is pushed as a big deal on the cover of the box.  It is decent but I still prefer the theatrical ending…yes I do.  There is one deleted scene included, also nothing special.  The last two features are neat though, including a informerical for “Uri’s Extreme Tours” and a viral video for “Chernobyl Conspiracy”.

Official synopsis: The film follows a group of six young tourists who, looking to go off the beaten path, hire an ‘extreme tour’ guide. Ignoring warnings, [their guide] takes them into the city of Pripyat, the former home to the workers of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor, but a deserted town since the disaster more than twenty-five years ago. After a brief exploration of the abandoned city, however, the group soon…[realizes] that they are not alone.

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Ian Somerhalder talks about his foundation and “The Vampire Diaries”

Ian Somerhalder is known best for his television roles on shows like “Lost” and “The Vampire Diaries”.  Ian also spends a lot of his time working with his foundation, Ian Somerhalder Foundation or ISF.  The foundation is participating Best Friends Animal Society’s annual Strut Your Mutt event at Park Sans Souci in Lafayette, Louisiana this year.  Media Mikes had a chance to ask Ian a few questions about his foundation and also about returning to season 4 of “The Vampire Diaries”.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us what made your start your foundation, ISF, and how did you come up with the mission of promoting love and interconnectedness?
Ian Somerhalder: After witnessing the devastation of the Oil spill in the Gulf, I had find a way to utilize my voice to make a change. I was not alone. I witnessed the compassion from others, equally as grief stricken, unite in determination. People of all ages gathered together to make a difference. I soon realized the immediate need for a platform for these amazing people to come together to have their voices heard. This launched the IS Foundation. As we come together more and more from all ages and walks of life, we celebrate our shared passions as well as our differences. With an understanding of the ultimate interconnectedness of the universe, we emphasize the unique strengths in all the different voices that make up the ISF Family.

MG: Tell us about your participation in the Best Friends Animal Society’s annual Strut Your Mutt eventat Park Sans Souci in Lafayette, Louisiana?
IS: ISF has long been a fan and supporter of Best Friends Animal Society and their mission of “No More Homeless Pets”. As we developed the idea for our Animal Sanctuary, we were looking for opportunities to spread the word and raise funds for this ambitious project. The “Strut Your Mutt” event in my home state is a great opportunity to get out and do just that alongside some amazing people and animals. We hope you join us and participate in this fantastic event!

MG: How can people help that cannot attend the event?
IS: Understandably, not everyone will be able to attend. By spreading the work of ISF, especially our plans to build a sustainable animal sanctuary, you are still participating! We are tremendously grateful for donations from ISF family members who want to see this dream come true. If just 1,000 people donated $10 a month for a year, we could achieve our goal!

MG: How do find time to focus on your charity along with starring in the hit CW show “The Vampire Diaries”?
IS: Although it can appear overwhelming at times, it’s necessary. We all lead busy lives, but to see the changes we want for this world we have to make time to stay active with our ideas and continue to collaborate. We can’t do it alone. I wouldn’t be able to accomplish nearly as much as I do without the incredible ISF family. Together our voices weave a tapestry that serves as support for our array of initiatives. ISF has an amazing Executive Director, Kim Klingler, who brings a tremendous amount of passion and knowledge to the table. We are also fortunate to have talented and driven volunteers who commit countless hours contributing their time on projects, content for the website, event planning and much more.

MG: How is filming going so far for the upcoming 4th season?
IS: Great! Coming back for a new season is always reminiscent of the first day of school. The cast and crew are incredibly close, so rekindling bonds and positive energy encompasses the set. And from what we’ve seen so far, this season is bound to be excellent. Things are going to be very interesting for Damon…so I hope you stay tuned to see…

MG: What do you have planned next for ISF and where can people find out more information?
IS: ISF is currently working on several projects and initiatives. We are planning our very own Vampire Diaries Convention to be hosted in Canada early next year. We are also working on a youth development conference to held next year as well. To see information about any of our current projects like the Animal Sanctuary, you can visit isfoundation.com and follow us on twitter and facebook.

Jonathan Sadowski talks about “Chernobyl Diaries”

© Winston Burris / PR Photos

Jonathan Sadowski is the star of the recent Oren Peli produced “Chernobyl Diaries”. Jonathan also star last year in TV’s short-lived “Bleep My Dad Says”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Jonathan about his new film and what we can expect.

Mike Gencarelli: What drew you to the “Chernobyl Diaries”?
Jonathan Sadowski: Starting from the audition process the project had a mystique about it. I didn’t really know anything about it as everyone was being very secretive. I did however figure Oren Peli was behind everything. The script was very improv based and we just let our characters run during the audition process.  Bit by bit we told more about the project and by the time screen testing started I knew what the film was about. Brad Parker is an actor’s director. He is very open to working with you. I had no idea the movie was going to be what it turned into.

MG: What did you like most about your character in the film?
JS: My character is the black sheep of the family. Everything that happens in this film is because my character decides to take these people on a tour of this abandoned city.

MG: Were the shooting locations challenging at all?
JS: We shot in a few different locations.  We were in Serbia as well as a few different cities outside of Budapest. There was a big language barrier there so communicating was extremely difficult. Trying to eat in restaurants there was really tuff.

MG: What was it like working with Oren Peli and first time director Brad Parker?
JS: For Brad being a first time director he is a pro. I can’t say enough about what he did with the film. He gave us tremendous liberties. Oren was on set every day and was also there during the audition process. The script really came out during rehearsals as it was very improv based. They actually taped the rehearsals and turned it into a script format. Oren was the first person to speak up if something wasn’t perfect. He was really amazing.

MG: Do you enjoy working in a more open environment?
JS: I love it! There are really no rules so you can push the envelope. They can always pull it back but at least you have the liberties to go further with your character.

MG: How does your experiences on this film compare to yours from previous works?
JS: The thing that was interesting about shooting this film was the whole secrecy aspect of things. Even when we were shooting we didn’t know what was going to happen or what things were going to look like until we were ready to do them. They were constantly pulling pranks on us to get real reactions.

MG: Can you tell us about any of your other projects?
JS: There is one film that I am in talks to do but the script is still being finished. They are also trying to get me to direct the project as well.

Paranormal Activity’s Oren Peli talks about his new film “Chernobyl Diaries”

Oren Peli is known best for his working on the “Paranormal Activity” series. Oren also produced last year’s amazing horror film “Insidious” and recent TV series “The River”. His latest project is being released on May 25th called “Chernobyl Diaries”, directed by Brad Parker (click here for our interview with Brad). Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Oren about not only producing this film but also co-writing.

Mike Gencarelli: Can you give us some of the films origin?
Oren Peli: I was killing time one day by browsing on the internet. While I was looking around I came across a link posted by someone who had gone to the city of Prypiat which is near the Chernobyl site. I guess in the last few years the town has been opened up as a tourist site. People can go there with a tour guide and walk around and take pictures. I had always known about the Chernobyl disaster but it never occurred to me that there was an abandoned town right next to it. The town was evacuated over night and left empty for 25 years. I thought it was sad but also fascinating. It was a great setting for a scary movie.

MG: How did this films writing differ from your previous work?
OP: In some aspects it was fairly similar. You start with a grain of an idea which you develop. You have to come up with the characters and the setting. Because it’s a horror movie you also have to think about what would be scary and how to put those scares into the movie. For me it was the whole idea that you are in an abandoned town where there is not supposed to be anyone or thing around. You become stranded in the middle of the night and you hear what you think could be a human scream from a distance. You now know that you are not alone. That is the core scare factor of the film.

MG: How did Brad Parker become attached to the project?
OP: After meeting with my producing partner we decided we were going to make the movie. We then joined forces will Phil Mason who financed the movie. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to direct the movie because my schedule would just not allow it. We met with a lot of directors that were very talented but some of them were not available and some we didn’t think were right for the genre. When we met Brad we were very impressed with his visual sense. We got along great and luckily he was the right guy for the job.

MG: What is your biggest challenge when working with a smaller budget?
OP: Low budget generally means you don’t have two months to shoot. You have to work in a smaller time frame. In this particular film one of the most important characters is the city. We had to make sure that we portrayed it accurately. We didn’t have an infinite budget for visuals and set building. We had to be very creative and smart in order to maximize our budget. It’s a challenge all around.

MG: Are you concerned at all about the film opening up against “Men in Black III”?
OP: I am sure “Men in Black III” will do very well but it’s a different audience. That film is more of a family film where ours is an R-rated hardcore horror film. The tradition of opening films on Memorial Day weekend has been very strong so I think all the films will do very well.

MG: What do you like most about producing films over directing?
OP: I think the main thing is directing islike a full time job. You are working on a film for a year at a time. When you are producing you are able to juggle several things at once. If I was directing “Chernobyl Diaries” I wouldn’t be able to do it because of all the other things I have going on. As a producer you are able to over think projects.

MG: What other projects are you working on next?
OP: I actually have a policy of not discussing any projects that I have in development. Sorry.

Brad Parker talks about directing “Chernobyl Diaries”

Brad Parker is making his directorial debut with the new film “Chernobyl Diaries”. The film is co-wrote and produced by Oren Peli, known for the “Paranormal Activity” series. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Bradley about working on the film and what we can expect.

Mike Gencarelli: Can you tell us why you chose “Chernobyl Diaries” for your directorial debut?
Brad Parker: There were two things really. The idea of working with Oren Peli who is a great guy and sort of a master of suspense was very exciting. The other thing was the city itself. It was a place I had been aware of and had collected photos of the location thinking that someday I would shoot a film there. When we first met we hit it off and were instantly able to start talking about the city as a character. We got right into the nuts and bolts of production. The place and the man were the two main elements.

MG: So you had knowledge of the area prior to starting?
BP: Yes I did. I had sort of learned from my friend Mark Romanic that as I came across fascinating photos I should save them on my computer. I created an archive for when I needed a specific look for something. I was able to pull from the knowledge of the place through a photographic sense.

MG: What do you think was this projects biggest challenge?
BP: The biggest challenge I think was the amount of time we had to do the film. I met theproducers of the film about a year ago. I had a rough treatment of the film at that time and we were set to start shooting not too long after that meeting. We really got into production very quickly. We shot the film in about 20 days so that was probably the biggest challenge. It was a lot of fun but very hard at the same time. Some of the locations were challenging and there were a number of things going on in a few of the scenes.

MG: Your background is in visual effects. Did you get involved with any of that for this film?
BP: I did. I got involved by deciding where not to use visual effects. I have being doing visual effects work for so long that I have become aware of where effects work and where they do not. I had a limited budget so I had to figure out how to use that appropriately. I worked with my friend and former co-worker Mark Forker on the visual stuff. It was great to be out there with a friend and an ally. We are very like minded and I trust him. He and I see eye to eye when it comes to visual aesthetics.

MG: What do you think you were able to take from this shoot that you will be able to use in future projects?
BP: The experience of working with this group of actors. It’s kind of semi-improvisational which I really liked. I found it very liberating and it was a great way to work. Working on long takes was another thing I loved. That was a great way to shoot and get natural performances. I think I will be taking that with me for future shoots.

MG: Are you at all nervous about the film opening up against “Men in Black III”?
BP: It’s hard to say. I don’t know what to expect being this is my first film. I am a big fan of the “Men in Black” series. I hope people respond well to the film. I don’t know how we will do but I hope people like it.

MG: Do you know what your next project will be?
BP: I am in development right now with Bad Robot. My friend Matt Reeves is producing the film and it is being released by Paramount. I can’t really say too much about it just yet.

Film Review “Chernobyl Diaries”

Starring: Jesse McCartney, Jonathan Sadowski and Olivia Dudley
Directed by: Bradley Parker
R
Running time: 1 hour 30 mins
Warner Brothers

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Blame “The Blair Witch Project.” Since that film came out in 1999, a plethora of “found footage” films has invaded the multiplex. Some of them (“Cloverfield,” the “Paranormal Activity” series) have been downright scary. Others, like the recent “Apollo 18,” have been anything but. Now we have “Chernobyl Diaries” which, thankfully, is no “Apollo 18.”

On a trip to Europe three young friends visit all of the major cities on the continent. London. Prague. Frankfurt. The trio is made up of Chris (McCartney), his girlfriend Natalie (Dudley) and their friend Amanda (Devin Kelly). The group ends up in Kiev, where they plan to meet up with Chris’ brother, Paul (Sadowski). The plan is to take a trip to Moscow. But the plans change when Paul enlists Uri (Dimitri Diatchenko), an “extreme tour” guide. Uri informs them that he can take the group to Pripyat, which is where the workers of the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant and their families lived. They learn that, after the reactor meltdown a quarter century ago, the residents of the town were given less than five minutes to evacuate. It now stands as a town that time forgot, where because of the fallout, nothing can live. Almost nothing.

Best described as “I Am Legend” meets “Paranormal Activity,” “Chernobyl Diaries” is a pretty slick little film. The “Paranormal Activity” gene comes straight from the source as the film was co-written by Oren Peli, the writer/director of the original film. His script is solid here, with an unflinching look at what the effects of a nuclear disaster can be. In Pripyat giant bears and packs of dogs hunt in the woods while fish resembling the kind swimming near the nuclear plant on “The Simpsons” fill the lake. The city is also occupied by what appears to be a race of people that have mutated into night dwelling monsters.

Though some of the scares are telegraphed the majority of the film is pretty intense. Credit a strong cast, a keen eye by first time director Parker and a production designer who has managed to bring, excuse the pun, a dead town to life. The set pieces are impressive as are the visual effects. If you’re looking for a fright this holiday weekend you could do much worse then “Chernobyl Diaries.”