June 20, 2020

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. And The Fascination With Chernobyl

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.

Here’s a question. What makes the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games so fascinating? 

Well, quite a few things actually. First and foremost, they’ve been enjoying a rather cult following since the release of the first game in 2007. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. The Shadow of Chernobyl.

Secondly the core of the game is an actual disastrous event. As the title of the game would suggest. And thirdly, it’s always great to add something new and terrifying just to shake things up in the horror aspect. Hence the appeal of the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games. They indeed have all of these things put in one. Which makes for a great entertaining and engaging content for sure.

Furthermore, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. stands for (Scavengers, Trespassers, Adventurers, Loners, Killers, Explorers and Robbers). Indeed you can find all of them in the first shooter game, and then some. Which is awesome, and makes the playing mode even more thrilling.

And finally, we have to mention, that we do have S.T.A.L.K.E.R. on sale here at IndieGala. But before we explore some of the movies that are very similar to the game… Let’s take a closer look at the game itself.

What’s S.T.A.L.K.E.R. all about?

As previously mentioned, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is a first-person shooter game. However, it does have tense survival horror elements as well, just like in the Metro games. Developed by GSC Game World in Kyiv the game is set in the area surrounding the Chernobyl disaster site.

Also known as the Zone. The game is loosely based on the novel Roadside Picnic (by Boris Strugatsky and Arkady) and the 1979 movie Stalker (directed by Andrei Tarkovsky). However, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. takes place in an alternate history version of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.

Secret experimental labs in the Exclusion Zone allowed scientists to experiment psychic abilities. Moreover, their experimentation resulted in a second disaster. Which turned the Zone into a nightmare.

Now, The Zone is filled with anomalies and hazardous entities. So, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. indeed tells a scary story about survival in the Zone. And it’s up to you as the player to survive.

 S.T.A.L.K.E.R.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and Chernobyl

First of all, the reality is the scariest genre of all. And secondly, nearly two months ago marks the 34th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster. Probably one of the scariest and terrifying nuclear accidents ever.

But what makes Chernobyl still a fascinating story to tell? Exactly 34 years later? In addition to the realistic portrayals of the disaster it serves as the base for a mix of additional genres.

You know…. when it comes to Chernobyl events nothing is off limits. However the disaster is terrifying enough, all by itself. Adding other sub-plots and horror genre to the story has been the artistic preferences for the developers ever since. So the final products are just as terrifying, if not more.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.  is one such project. The developers took the basic formula of the disaster. And made a brand new piece with much scarier horror elements.

For instance, terrifying mutated monsters and hazardous anomalies. Certainly, the reality is the scariest genre of all. But 34 years later, people have found a way to make it even scarier.

So, with that in mind. Which are the best examples of Chernobyl stories in modern culture?

Naturally not everyone utilizes the story properly, but there are those who do make great and entertaining content.

Much like the S.T.A.L.K.E.R.  games.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and TV entertainment

Indeed Chernobyl disaster is heavily featured on TV as well. The recent HBO miniseries Chernobyl is a great example of this great and entertaining content. The showrunners managed to recreate the events of the accident meticulously and nearly identically.

Maybe with certain changes for dramatic purposes, but still very accurately indeed. The Chernobyl TV show portrayed the days and months after the nuclear disaster and the effect it had. Not just on the crumbling Soviet Union, but on the rest of Europe as well.

So with that in mind. Who are the movies that also feature the Chernobyl disaster (or a very similar disaster) in their plot?

Stalker

 S.T.A.L.K.E.R.

Unlike the TV show, Stalker doesn’t portray the Chernobyl disaster. It did have rather different themes in the plot. And it came out almost a decade before the nuclear disaster as well. However, at the same time, it’s one of Andrei Tarkovsky’s masterpieces.

Stalker is an outstanding cinematic piece of Science Fiction. With heavy philosophical undertones too. Most importantly it tells a story of an expedition to a restricted and mysterious site, known as – The Zone.

At the very start of the movie, The Stalker (Alexander Kaidanovsky) takes two clients to the Zone.

A writer and a scientific professor must enter a room, located in the Zone. And according to the legend, all of desires are granted there. It’s a secluded and dangerous area, sealed from the society. Surviving it is not an easy task indeed.

And yes, the initial release was met with less than favorable reviews.

However, today, Stalker is a true modern masterpiece of the Russian cinema. It’s a must-watch for all of the film buffs.

Chernobyl Diaries

Rather a much resentful movie regarding the Chernobyl disaster.

Also, it’s an American disaster horror film, partially filmed on the location. The location in Pripyat no less. Likewise, the film is set on the grounds of the notorious ex-nuclear plant.

In Chernobyl Diaries, six tourists hire a tour guide to take them to the abandoned city. However, it’s during their exploration, they soon discover they are not alone.

It’s not the best movie on the subject indeed. With even some calling it disaster porn with a lack of respect for the victims. However, despite the lack of artistic quality it’s scary and fun.

And it’s always a good idea to mention it on such lists.

Hey! It was filmed near Chernobyl after all.

Annihilation

 S.T.A.L.K.E.R.

Finally, we’re back to the good stuff.

The good movies indeed. In contrast to the previous film, Annihilation does not mention Chernobyl.

It is however very similar to plenty of other movies. Movies that involve going into a prohibited Zone, and facing an unfamiliar threat. With plenty of unknown creatures and looming danger of course. For instance, it’s very similar to the aforementioned Stalker, but with a modern twist.

After all, his is a hidden gem, in the vast Netflix movie poo, and it shouldn’t be missed.

A group of scientists sign up and enter The Shimmer. A rather mysterious zone of mutating plants and animals. The Shimmer is under quarantine, but it’s spreading. And scientists believe that was caused by extra-terrestrial presence.

It’s up to them to find out what’s going on there.

Much like Stalker, Annihilation deals with philosophical themes as well. Themes like loss, grief, and death, since all of the characters have experienced them at some period of their lives.

Written and directed by the one and only Alex Garland, the movie is brilliant. As someone would expect from an Alex Garland film. But, Annihilation has an impressive cast to back up the interesting plot. The Oscar winner Natalie Portman is in the lead of course.

And the movie also features Oscar Isaac, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Tessa Thompson in supporting roles as well.

Your thoughts on S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 

Did you like the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. video game? What’s your favorite Chernobyl themed movie? Or you’d prefer TV projects about nuclear disaster? Tell us about it in the comment section. We’d love to know.

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