JeruZalem (aka Jeruzalem) review by Mark McPherson - Cinema Paradiso
One bit of writing advice I’ve heard from horror screenwriters was that something scary should happen every few pages. JeruZalem is very much the film that spends so much time trying to weave the ease and mundane of tourists on vacation in Jerusalem before the inevitable demonic outbreak. We know it’s coming, as seen in an off-putting opening documentary we later learn was hidden away by the Vatican. It’s a precaution as the movie spends over an hour to slowly build up to the collapse of the world. I guess that initial vision of someone sprouting demon wings has to remain in your mind to keep you interested.
It’s really a shame that JeruZalem is one of the first found-footage horror movies to take advantage of the fad of Google Glass. Every found footage film always has to warp reality to keep our protagonists always carrying cameras in the most terrifying of situations. Here, it makes sense. The perky tourist girl Rachel (Yael Grobglas) just slaps them on, tries out a few features, and forgets about them when all the bad stuff goes down. Before all that bad stuff, however, you have to sit through about an hour of her Jerusalem vacation which may or may not turn the film into a masquerading tourism campaign. She visits the sights, takes part in events, meets the locals, learns about the region, takes in a nightclub, and has a one-night-stand to get over her dead boyfriend.
There’s nothing special about Rachel past her dead boyfriend and her desire to either bring him back to life or find a new one (whichever happens first). And so we’re stuck with her view throughout the film of eating apples and meeting hot guys with charming personalities but bland chemistry. She’ll eventually take them off to have sex with some guy but, don’t worry, she’ll have them perfectly placed in the room so we can see everything. Thankfully the directors of the Paz brothers take advantage of the Google Glass to pop-up chat windows, GPS, and videos. It’s a clever tool and helps the story climb over some expositional hills.
Finally, we get to the invasion of demons and it’s a decent thrill. I say decent because, after so much boring and limited build-up, it’s refreshing that anything happens. There’s some tense runs through dark alleys, infected individuals who puke blood and gain black pupils, and plenty of mass panic over the violence in the streets. It’s sad, however, to look at this with scrutinizing eyes of the limited budget, made evident by some lukewarm composites of explosions and spraying blood assembled with computer graphics. I’m not trying to be nitpicky, but that blood looks astonishingly red in the darkness of night.
It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if JeruZalem was based on a short film because it certainly feels that way with all the stuffing. Some of the monster effects are kinda neat, including the sprouting wings which leads into an interesting end shot of ascending into the air with all the other swarming demons. But considering how long it takes to reach that juicy sequence of shaky cameras, blood spray, and demonic monsters mucking about, the Paz brother would have been better off trimming this down and sticking it in an anthology of horror supernatural horror shorts.