Ginger Nuts of Horror
The gates of hell are bout to open for three american students
Still in shock and recovering from the death of her brother Sarah (Danielle Jadelyn) decides to go on vacation with her best friend Rachel (Yael Grobglas) to The Holy Land. As a going away gift Sarah's father gives her a pair of Google Glasses.
While on the flight from American the two travellers befriend history buff and anthropologist Kevin (Yon Tumarkin), who charms them into taking a detour from their plans and travelling with him to Jerusalem. Where they meet, in a night club, Omar (Tom Graziani) a local hotel owner, who becomes their local tourist guide.
As Omar leads them through the ancient city as it prepares itself for Yom Kippur we are given hints that this isn't going to be your usual holiday for the city....
Jeruzalem is an interesting film, one that comes so close to being a very special film. Opening with a foreboding message telling us about the three gateways to Hell, the film sets itself up as though it is going to have a strong religious message and themes. It is perturbing that the film doesn't fully explore this side of in greater depth. It didn't have to go to Exorcist levels of discourse on religious symbolism and such like, however it some greater exploration of this theme and metaphors would have made for a much better film.
Instead of religious metaphor and symbolism the film defaults to being almost just another zombie film, however Jeruzalem is saved from being another generic film by a number of interesting concepts.
The first of these is the way in which the film gets around the age old question that is always levelled at found footage films
"Why do they keep filming when they are being chased by (insert whatever monster you want)?"
Sarah's use of her smart glasses is inspired, and the bag snatching incident at leads to Sarah losing her prescription glasses may well be contrived and slightly heavy handed, but at least the filmmakers have tried to offer an reason for why they keep filming. Although I am still unconvinced that the smart glasses would function for that length of time on a single charge, but this a small point point of contention.
The glasses also allow for some great plot devices, such as the ability to use facial recognition which then links up to the person's social media account, and when Sarah gets lost, she can access Google maps is also a clever move.
The glasses are also integral to two of the best scenes in the film. Before all hell breaks loose Sarah takes of her glasses and places them at the side of a bed without switching them off, and then proceeds to get very intimate with a male friend. Just as she gets jiggy with it, her father tries to contact her via the built in Skype function. The shot of her father sitting on his couch waiting for her to pick up his call, interspersed with a glass eye view of her having sex was a very moving shot. It felt like a metaphor for a fathers inability to stop his girl from growing up and becoming an adult.
The glasses also allow the final scene of the film to be framed perfectly, without giving anything away the final shot of the film is the perfect way for the film to end.
They are also cleverly allow for the film to drop info dumps without it ever seeming forces, by having another member of the cast wear the glasses.
Initially it felt like this was going to be yet another one of those films that has annoying Americans being rude and obnoxious and then getting their comeuppance, but as the first act plays out we are brought on side. The initial cliched cast of characters is replaced with much more enduring and likeable set of protagonists. We warm to them as they explore the ancient city, so when the gates of hell do open up and the inevitable running and screaming begins, we aren't instantly annoyed and wish them a quick and horrible death. I'm looking at you Hooked Up, Paranormal Activity - The Marked Ones and Prey. The characters in these films were so irritating you couldn't wait to see them die.
The film finds itself fighting the trappings of found footage films and its own narrative once all hell breaks loose, it comes within touching distance of becoming an exceptional film.
Sadly the film descends into an all too familiar zombie film territory, despite the uniqueness of the "zombies". These aren't your usual flesh eating, brain munching variety, they are more akin to demons than the shambling dead. Which makes it even more of a pity that they resort to the scratch and your are infected cliche of every zombie film. It would have been better to tie in the spread of the demons to the Jerusalem Syndrome that is mentioned earlier in the film, whereby visitors to the holy city become so overwhelmed by the weight of history and religious significance, that they simply go mad.
The creature design and the presence of a gigantic King Kong sized demon is inspired. The shambolic crazy look of those who have gone full demonic is very good, and the accompany shriek as they tattered demonic wings sprout from their back gives the film a great atmosphere.
Jeruzalem, is an annoying film, mainly because it comes so close to being so much more, there is believable dialogue, good acting, a great sense of impending dread in the first half of the film. The film doesn't resort to the characters making dumb choices just to keep the action / chase tension level up. It's just a pity that the filmmakers didn't take a chance and explore the religious element of the film that was hinted at the start of film, rather than becoming essentially a typical zombie film.
However the film shows great promise, highly watchable with good acting and some clever and deft touches that address the pitfalls of found footage film.