Chris (Jesse McCartney), his girlfriend Natalie (Olivia Dudley), and their friend Amanda (Devin Kelley) are on a trip through Europe when they make a stop in Kiev to visit Chris’ older brother Paul (Jonathan Sadowski) who has been living there for a few months and has no plans to leave. At Paul’s apartment, Paul attempts to flirt with Amanda while Chris warns him off because she just went through a tough breakup and had to be dragged to Europe by Natalie. As the girls are on the balcony looking at the city, Chris reveals that he has an engagement ring with him and plans to propose to Natalie in Moscow, the next stop on their tour. They all go out clubbing and get drunk and on their way back to Paul’s place they get into a brief altercation with a few drunks after Paul makes some confrontational remarks in Russian (none of this exchange is translated) while they’re leering at the girls. Chris is level-headed and manages to talk him down (you get the sense that he’s the responsible one between the two and has had to talk his brother down quite often).
The next morning the girls and Chris are at a cafe trying to translate the menu and find good hangover food when Paul finally joins them. He knows they’re supposed to head to Moscow for the next leg of their trip, but he met an extreme tour guide who gives tours of Pripyat, the ghost town next to the Chernobyl nuclear reactors where the workers lived before being forced to evacuate with no notice during the reactor meltdown. Chris is vehemently opposed to the tour, but Natalie, Amanda, and Paul outvote him and they head to the tour guide’s office. The tour guide, Uri (Dimitri Diatchenko), is a former special forces officer and has been giving tours of Pripyat for five years. The tour group is rounded out by newlyweds Michael (Nathan Phillips) and Zoe (Ingrid Bolso Berdal), and they head to Uri’s camo-painted old school van to hit the road.
The trip to Pripyat is two hours but when they reach the checkpoint into the city they’re turned back by the guards who claim the city is undergoing unexpected maintenance. Uri finds this strange because he’s usually notified in advance to keep him from driving out all that way with tour groups. Uri decides that since they paid for the tour he’ll take them down a back road into the city. Chris and the girls are concerned about radiation but Uri reassures them that the levels have gone down in recent years and as long as they’re not in the city for long lengths of time it will be fine. They drive through some back woods and stop at a little river near the city where Uri gets out to look at something in the water. He screams and pulls his hand out, but it’s just a prank to scare them all, but then they notice something under some leaves on the bank. It’s a weird looking, mutated fish with sharp teeth and after Michael almost touches it, it turns out the fish is still alive, and there are similar fish in the water nearby.
They head back to the van and make their way into the city itself. Uri shows them around the various locations while Amanda takes pictures and Michael tapes it on his cell phone. Uri uses a geiger counter to measure radiation levels for safety. The tour is uneventful until their last stop at an old apartment building. On the front porch, they find a decomposed dog who Uri suspects came from the woods because it was starving. They head up to get a good view of the reactors in the distance from one of the apartment balconies. While the rest are busy taking pictures, Uri wanders into a bedroom and finds the remains of a recent fire. He kicks it out and says it’s time to head back before it gets dark and wolves or wild dogs come into town from the forest.
On their way down the stairs, they hear loud crashes coming from one of the apartments. Uri again goes to investigate while the camera remains with the others. Suddenly, a big brown bear comes barreling down the hallway Uri went through and straight towards Amanda, whom Paul pulls out of the way. While the bear does not try to attack anyone, it rattles them all, and they decide it’s time to get going. Uri claims that he’s never seen a bear in the city before and doesn’t know why it would be there. They get to the van, but Uri is unable to get the engine to start. He opens a panel inside the car and sees that some wires have been chewed through, and he won’t be able to start the car at all. None of them have cell phone service, and Uri is unable to reach any of the guards on his walkie talkie.
Michael and Zoe want to hike out to the checkpoint, but it’s 13 miles away and dangerous at night with wild animals in the surrounding woods. They all decide to sleep in the van with the windows up, the doors locked, and the inside lights on as the city gets darker and darker around them. Shortly after, they start to hear shrieking sounds. Natalie and Amanda think it sounds like a crying baby. Uri pulls out a gun and takes his walkie talkie to go investigate. At this point, Chris is really angry with Paul and starts yelling about how much more he could screw up and make Chris’ life more difficult yet again. As Uri walks away from the van, Chris decides to join him and runs after him. The camera stays with everyone in the van as they try to see out the windows to see where Chris and Uri went. In the distance, they see and hear several quick gunshots and Paul runs that way to find Chris. He disappears in the distance only to return moments later dragging Chris who can barely walk.
Paul is screaming at them to open the doors of the van, and he shoves Chris inside and gets in after him. Chris’ leg is bloody, and part of his bone is sticking out. He is screaming and just saying that there were “a lot of them” and they got Uri. As they’re patching Chris’ leg, the car battery dies, and the lights go out. They continue to wrap Chris’ leg and try to keep him calm when suddenly wild dogs start attacking the car from all angles. Michael hits the ceiling and walls of the car with a crowbar and eventually when they can’t get in the dogs run off. The next morning, Michael finds the other walkie talkie in the glove compartment, but Uri isn’t answering on his end so Michael and Paul decide they need to go find him, or his body, or the gun he had with him. Amanda is looking through her photos and sees what looks like a blurry person in one of the windows of an apartment that she took the day before, but she doesn’t tell anyone. Amanda also decides to join Michael and Paul, and they head towards the area where Uri disappeared.
As Paul talks to Uri on the walkie, they eventually hear an echo and find the other walkie on some stairs leading down into a partially underground building. They follow Uri’s blood trail through the building, and Amanda says they should leave because with that amount of blood, there’s no way Uri’s alive, but Michael and Paul want to keep going and get his gun. They eventually see his legs sticking out from behind a counter in a kitchen area, but when they round the corner they see that his body has been ripped apart. Michael finds the gun’s clip, but they don’t see the gun anywhere. As they’re standing near the body, they hear someone approaching. Michael and Paul dive through a back door but Amanda dives the other way over a countertop where she stays still and quiet as the person wanders through the dark kitchen.
Paul manages to get her attention from the door and motions at her to crawl over and get out. She moves slowly and finds Uri’s gun underneath the counter near his body and reaches for it as she sees the person who appears to be kneeling over and eating Uri’s body. Unfortunately, she makes a noise when she grabs the gun and has to run to the door as the person growls and lunges towards her. (It should be noted that for most of the movie we don’t actually see long, detailed shots of the people/creatures but through multiple shots come to see that they are deformed humans). As they try to hold the door closed with the mutant banging against it, Paul shoots three times through the door, and the banging stops. They all run back to the car where they decide to hike out to the checkpoint.
Chris can’t move at all so he and Natalie stay in the car with one walkie while Amanda, Paul, Michael, and Zoe take the other walkie and hike out to get help. Chris tries to apologize to Paul for yelling at him, but Paul cuts him off and says they’ll be fine, and he’s going to get help. When the other four leave, Chris also tells Natalie that he was going to propose in Moscow and shows her the ring, but she tells him to put it away and do it the right way when they get to Moscow. Amanda, Paul, Michael, and Zoe are hiking towards where they believe the checkpoint is located, but on the road ahead, they spot a pack of dogs eating something so they decide to loop around. Paul has Uri’s geiger counter, and it starts going off to indicate higher levels of radiation, but they have to keep moving.
The four eventually come to a parking lot full of old cars and Michael finds an old van like Uri’s and starts to look for the necessary wires to fix the van. Meanwhile, Paul notices a bus sitting in the parking lot with bullet holes, but when he touches them, he realizes they came from inside the bus. He goes on the bus with Amanda and they see hundreds of holes in the sides of the bus but no usable guns or ammo, although Amanda finds a working flashlight. They come across a broken window with dried blood and a guard’s uniform and realize they’re in more trouble than they thought. Michael finally gets the part, and they radio Natalie and Chris to let them know they’re on their way back when they see the dog pack from earlier running towards the parking lot. They run to a partially blocked and submerged walking bridge on the river where the dogs can’t reach them and start to cross. Zoe falls in the water and Michael jumps in after her and lifts her up to Paul. Michael starts screaming and thrashing but manages to get to the other shore where they see that he was bitten on the leg by those mutated fish.
As they’re walking back to the car, Paul and Michael talk about the urban legends about whether Pripyat was ever truly abandoned and Amanda mentions what she thinks she saw in the picture she took. At this point, you can see a mutant walk across the shadows behind them. They finally make it back to the van, but it’s not parked where they left it. They find the car nearby with the windows busted out, laying upside down, and Natalie and Chris missing. Zoe finds Natalie’s phone that was taping her, and Chris talking when they hear crashing and banging. The phone catches little glimpses of what happens, and they see Chris and Natalie being dragged out of the car. Paul refuses to leave without his brother and runs into the old school building nearest to where the car was overturned.
The four of them end up in the cafeteria area but don’t see or hear anything so they turn around to leave when a wooden chair flies through the air and crashes into the wall. Amanda turns the flashlight towards where the chair was thrown and you see a quick glimpse of one of the creatures standing behind the cafeteria counter making creepy growling noises. They all scream and start running through the hall to the exit when they literally run right into a screaming Natalie and drag her out with them. Michael manages to snag a map that was on the wall near the school entrance, and they manage to convince Paul and Natalie that the only way they can help Chris is to leave and get help.
They’re wandering through a big open area trying to follow the map when they stop because Michael and Zoe disagree on whether they’re going the right way. Natalie sits on the ground near the stairs to a lower level of the city and the other four turn and notice a little girl standing in the middle of the street with her back to them. Paul tries speaking to her in Russian, but she never responds. While those four have their backs turned, you see the shadow of a mutant behind Natalie. She screams and is dragged down the steps where the others chase after her but can’t find her once they’re down the stairs.
They wander into another open area and see a big group of the mutants following them and Michael uses the last of the ammo to hold them off long enough to get through a door and barricade it long enough to find another set of stairs and a big metal door. The mutants get through the first door and Zoe, Amanda, and Paul manage to get into the next room while Michael stays on the other side to force the door closed before he gets taken. Amanda and Paul drag a devastated Zoe along while they continue through the building. Zoe has a panic attack when they get to the next set of stairs leading down, but they convince her to continue on. They make their way through this deep underground building until Paul finds the engagement ring Chris was going to give Natalie and a moving body under a blanket.
When he pulls back the blanket, it isn’t Chris, but another mutant. This one is again difficult to see, but it looks like it has stumps for legs and a smaller body and arms, and it lunges at them, and they scream and run as more mutants appear behind them. They reach a metal ladder, and Paul jumps up and manages to pull Amanda up, but Zoe gets grabbed by a huge group of mutants and can’t hold on. This scene has a pretty decent shot of the mutants. They are all bald and pale and appear to be wearing similar outfits. Amanda and Paul continue through the building with Uri’s geiger counter going off again because of higher radiation levels and eventually come through another door. When they pass through the door, their eyes start burning and getting blurry, and when Amanda shines her flashlight on them, they appear to have radiation burns on their skin. They finally make their way out and see that they were actually in the reactor that melted down and have really bad radiation poisoning.
When they emerge, they see lights coming towards them, but they are almost totally blind and panicked at this point, screaming for help. Soldiers in tanks roll up and tell them not to move, but Paul stumbles forward a bit and is shot and killed. Amanda falls on the ground and grabs onto Paul’s body. She next starts to wake up being wheeled down a hallway in what looks like a hospital by men with radiation masks. They tell her that they’re going to get her help, but in Russian, they tell the doctor that all of the escaped patients were recovered, and all of the tourists were killed except for her and they can’t let her leave since she saw the patients that escaped the facility. Amanda’s looking around while being wheeled on the gurney and she can see various laboratories and doctors in what appears to be a Russian government facility where they run tests on the mutants from the disaster.
Amanda’s burns appear pretty severe, and they wheel her to a door at the end of a hallway where they help her stand up before pushing her through and locking it behind her. She can barely see, but she can sense someone else in the room, and she looks around panicked asking who is there. The doctor watches through a hole in the door while the mutants come out from the shadows and grab Amanda and drag her away screaming.
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