As the horror film "Chernobyl Diaries" hits American and Canadian theatres this weekend, a victim support group has expressed its disapproval.
Entrance gate to the Chernobyl reactor zone. In the background: The sarcophagus built around Reactor #4.
"Chernobyl Diaries" is a fictional movie that uses the real-life tragedy of Chernobyl as its backdrop, but the movie's premise has upset victim support group Friends of Chernobyl Centers U.S., reports TMZ.
The plot of the movie is six tourists go to visit Prypiat, the now deserted town near the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine where, in 1986, one of the worst nuclear disasters in history took place. Upon the group's arrival, they hire a tour guide to explore the now barren site. During their trip, the friends discover they are "not alone".
Friends of Chernobyl Centers U.S. sees this film's plot as a slap in the face to the millions of people who have suffered in the wake of this tragedy.
"It is terrible that such a tragic event as Chernobyl is being sensationalized in a Hollywood horror film," a rep for the Friends of Chernobyl Centers U.S. told TMZ.
The group further said, "Thousands of people have died and over 400,000 people were evacuated from their homes. Today over 5 million people still live on contaminated land. The horror is not mutants running around, the real horror is the effect that Chernobyl continues to have on the lives of millions who have been devastated physically, emotionally and economically."
"Chernobyl Diaries" creator Oren Pelihas has fired back, according to a later report from TMZ. Reportedly, a different victim support group, Chabad's Children of Chernobyl, wrote to Peli praising him for the way he handled the story. The film's creator also said the "mutants" are not victims of the disaster, and the "dilapidated location is JUST a backdrop," for the story.
"As for the claim that our film exploits anyone -- we could not disagree more vigorously," Peli said. "First of all, the criticism and accusations are coming from a group that has not seen the film, whereas conversely the praise for it is coming from those who have indeed seen it."
The Chernobyl site has been closed to the public for a quarter of a century. The April 26, 1986 nuclear blast churned out a vast amount of radiation, leaving the region severely contaminated. The region was sealed off, and visits to the disaster location were prohibited, except by those authorized to enter.
Although, in the last one to two years, official tours have commenced, hoping to curtail 'illegal' tours of the area. The once bustling city of Prypiat, that exists silently, is one of the primary sites people come to see.
"Chernobyl Diaries" was written and produced by Oren Peli, directed by Bradley Parker, and stars Jesse McCartney, Jonathan Sadowski, Olivia Dudley, Devin Kelley, Nathan Phillips, Dimitri Diatchenko and Ingrid Bolsø Berdal.
The movie opens Fri., May 25 (midnight) in the U.S. and Canada; the film opens June 22 in the U.K.