Footage presumably found in one of the holiest cities in the world show how two young American tourists in Jerusalem see the sights, including a few they never wanted to. Somehow they are there when a gate to Hell opens. Out come demon-like zombies (or is it zombie-like demons?). The Paz Brothers (Doron and Yoav) write and direct an apocalyptic story taking place (and shot) in the Old City of Jerusalem. Once the horror gets going most of the action takes place in the dark. Unfortunately, one scene of people screaming in the dark looks a lot like any other scene of people screaming in the dark.
Rating: 0 (-4 to +4) or 4/10.
The Paz Brothers work in Israel mostly in television. They have made ‘JeruZalem’ doubly on the cheap. ‘JeruZalem’ is a film obviously designed to give a lot of punch on a meager budget. Since ‘The Blair Witch Project’, we have gotten a lot of films using the ultra- economical style of ‘found footage’. With consumer electronics as low-cost as it has become, it is a fairly cheap approach to making a film and it can be effective in giving a feel of verisimilitude to the action of a story. Unfortunately, a lot of filmmakers jumped on the bandwagon and made a lot of very similar films. Without a real stylist designing a film visually there can be too much resemblance from one found-footage outing to the next. That does become tiresome. Beyond found-footage, they have set their second film, ‘JeruZalem’, in Jerusalem where there are a lot of spectacular backdrops available to be used cheaply and, in general, zombie films are economical to make. It is a clever plan to make a horror film economically.
So it turns out that the city sacred to three major world religions is actually a gate to Hell. Who knew? Who would have thought it? Then on the right day, demons and monsters come out of a bottomless pit. This is particularly inconvenient to two girlfriends, Rachel and Sarah (Yael Grobglas and Danielle Jadelyn, visiting Israel. Rachel is wearing smart glasses (Google glass in all but name) which is convenient if you are going to film your whole trip. For the first half of the film, they sightsee, party and flirt. On the way, they pick up a young archaeologist. Yon Tumarkin plays Kevin, who explains the historical basis for much of what they are seeing. All religions have their demons, he tells them, and for Jews it is the golem. [Sorry, Pazes, the golem is not demonic. It is more a clay statue brought to animate life by the same process that God used to create humans.] They are visiting the Old City looking down on the Old and New cities from a rooftop and there is an explosion, apparently from terrorists. This is part of what opens the gate to Hell. Everywhere is chaos. The rest of the film is trying to get to safety and fight off the demons who follow the rules of zombies. The demons are visually the most innovative part of the film. Don’t expect a lot to be impressed by, but at least it is an interesting touch.
Where the film is most out of the ordinary is in its showing of the scenery of Jerusalem, but seeing the smart glasses in action is probably the best feature of the film. Too bad the horror is so unoriginal. The Paz Brothers apparently had some good ideas of what to put into a horror film, but not much new in how to make that film. I would rate ‘JeruZalem’ a 0 on the -4 to +4 scale or 4/10. The title if you missed it is, of course, ‘Jerusalem’ with the ‘s’ replaced by a ‘Z’ for zombie.
Mark R. Leeper
(c) Mark R. Leeper 2016