Yet another found footage horror film set in an interesting and historical location, JeruZalem (2015, dir. Doron & Yoav Paz) invokes ancient legends within the context of the religious melting pot of the city of Jerusalem in Israel. When Sarah (Danielle Jadelyn) and her best friend Rachel (Yael Grobglas) travel to Israel for a fun beach holiday in Tel Aviv, they meet with a mysterious and good-looking anthropologist (Yon Tumarkin) who convinces them to visit Jerusalem instead. Unfortunately, just before the day of Yom Kippur, all hell breaks loose as monsters of Biblical proportions begin attacking the city.
The first thing you need to know about JeruZalem is that it’s a found footage horror film with a difference. Instead of being shot from the point of view of a video camera, the ‘found footage’ is from the point of view of a Google Glass type of contraption. We see the action of the film unfolding from the direct eye-line of our protagonist Sarah, who conveniently wears glasses. This might sound interesting, but it’s actually really annoying. Filming from an eye level is fairly disorienting and dizzying as Sarah runs around and moves her head about wildly. The overall effect is an unpleasant one. Then, because it’s an obnoxious social media device, the ‘Glass’ as it’s referred to keeps popping up with Facebook and Myspace alerts, and every now and then a Japanese cat video or two. As the Glass sustains more damage it starts glitching, the screen eventually cracking and causing the viewer’s vision to become distorted as well. It’s a fun concept, but in practice it really does not work in terms of actually helping to tell a story because it makes you want to close your eyes and have a rest. I can’t imagine ever seeing this in a cinema.
Story-wise, JeruZalem also sounds pretty interesting. Beginning with a quote from the ancient Talmud text (apparently; I haven’t double-checked it) where it states that there is a gate to hell somewhere in Jerusalem, the story itself has a lot of potential. The idea of Biblical monsters attacking an ancient city which just so happens to house the big three Abrahamic religions is something I want to watch, if it’s done right. Unfortunately, the story is too packed in at the front end with a huge exposition moment, other miscellany, dumb tourist moments and general awkwardness, and the story sold to you on the poster doesn’t start until more than half-way in. The story is imbalanced, with a script that relies on clichéd dialogue, characters you don’t care about or find just plain annoying, and predictable jump scares. It goes without saying that this film is by and large extremely poorly acted, and the CGI is really bad as well.
Why do I keep watching films like this? As with my rationale behind watching similar films such as As Above, So Below (2014) and The Pyramid (2014), I really wanted to watch JeruZalem mostly because I was interested in seeing more of the city of Jerusalem, as I’ve never been there in real life. It is noteworthy and enjoyable that when our characters do visit interesting locations and architecture in the city, the eye-line perspective of the Glass helps you to feel as if you’re really there, staring up at the ceiling of an ancient church for example. JeruZalem gets one star for that and that alone. This film is not really worth seeing unless you’re an absolute found footage horror film junkie. JeruZalem is generic, and it’s a shame because it had an interesting concept that just was not treated very well at all.
Watch the trailer here.