JeruZalem is another found footage horror where the implementation of new technology enters into the fray and provides a slight improvement on the genre. Sadly, when horror fans hear the term “found footage” a depressive sigh escapes the mouth, slight tilt of the head however The Paz brothers (Doron and Yoav) use the backdrop of the real city of Jerusalem for a zombie, monsters and possession thriller, and clearly with a capital Z in the title representing the emphasis on Zombies. Normally a film like this usually has the demon creature Golem, however in this situation the Paz duo who serves as both directors and screenwriters on their first horror film do it differently.
The story starts with two Americans Rachel Klein (Yael Grobglas, from the film Rabies (2010)) and Sarah Pullman (Danielle Jadelyn) plan a journey to Tel Aviv, as both a vacation and that Sarah needs to move on, since suffering after the death of her brother. Sarah has a gift from her father a pair of glasses, this also becomes the point of view camera for the filming vehicle of the movie, and these never clearly identify the maker but thinks Google Glasses. On the plane, they meet a student Kevin Reed (Yon Tumarkin), who’s passion lies in religious mythology (especially Golem and the undead), he’s spending Yom Kippur in Jerusalem first, and persuades them to accompany him. Sarah quickly develops a crush on Kevin and agrees to join in on the fun and all three venture to their hostel, but meet a local who believes that he is King David (watch the movie to see how he fits into the story-line). After the unique check-in the owner’s son, Omar (Tom Graziani) offers to show them around the city, with at least one eye on Rachel. They visit the Wailing Wall, while Sarah writes a wish onto a paper, for her brother Joel to return from the dead. Now horror fans know these wishes are never a good thing, all of it a bit of foreshadowing and a tad too convenient placement in the movie. They visit Solomon’s Quarries and Kevin begins to spiral into a paranoid meltdown, and alarms everyone with his wild claims of prophecies, his evidence found on secretly leaked videos of exorcisms located on the dark side of the net, because everything found on the internet contains truth. Kevin rants about the conspiracies and wild fantasies of the end of days and rise of demons, the evidence suppress by religious leaders, military leaders and politicians. However, as he is taken to the nuthouse the city erupts in chaos, the portal to hell unleashes winged demons, monsters and of course zombies, all which stay hidden likely due to funding issues. It is here the viewers, piece to together glimpses of data and understand, that opposed to The Beyond (1981) instead of seven doors to hell, and three portals exist in the ocean, desert, and (drum-roll) one in Jerusalem. The demons stalk and eat human flesh, and venomous contagious bites transforming humans into more winged zombie monsters. A very quick glimpse shows what appears as Golem, but never anything else concerning him or alluding to the background on these historical places and connection to the horror film. All of it provides a found footage movie meets monsters and zombies swoop in for crumpets in a biblical horror flick.
Now found footage movies always have the same people running about in terror holding the video camera and everyone wonders why, however the Paz brothers use the newest technology to bypass that problem. They tell the entire film through the glasses hence provides the solution, and face it not the first time, POV returns to the filmmakers’ toolkit, and lately it’s finding a place in horror films, with advancement in technology making everyone a creator of content. It’s the best product placement that many others state and one must agree, and we learn during the movie why Sarah must continue to wear them. The technology of the glasses allows for a lot of interaction and advance the narrative story in a new and interesting direction. Another reason to understand, that might become a game changer for independent movies, as the lower production costs and works itself to connect with the gamer generation of today who play in a first-person mode. Although, the POV concept not new has been around for a while, used in movies and films, JeruZalem generates a new blueprint for a new debate and discussion to arise.
The characters panic, cry and bicker, yet still likable, and the youths all care more about partying than turmoil or culture differences, especially later in the movie concerning blame and survival none of it becomes a cliche. The special effects tend for a mere basic portion, herein a larger budget needs to rescue the film, and the monsters feel a tad lame and never become greater, resulting in hit and miss. A rarity of the found footage films finding themselves as extremely fun, unique filming style however a bit of reconstructing is required in the final act which would work to tighten the tension and allow more horrors unleashed.
When dealing with the sub-genre of religious horror one commonly ventures into a direction of overused Catholicism battles, but mixing it with found footage allows for a twist, especially when pitted against another religion. JeruZalem serves a popcorn movie, regardless of the time of day, nothing overwhelming in general, but the direction of filming keeps one hidden from the doom waiting in the shadows, just to tease you bit.
This review was originally published on the now defunct Rogue Cinema website in July 2016 with a view count of 1,533.
*UPDATE: A part 2, now listed in script format, may actually occur, however no guarantees.
On Judgement Day, hell shall inherit the Earth.
IMDb Rating: 4.7/10
Baron’s Rating: 4.5/10