Sarah (Danielle Jadelyn) is a privileged New Jersey twenty something who lives with her dad Howard (Howard Rypp). She's due to embark on a holiday to Tel Aviv shortly with best pal Rachel (Yael Grobglas), for which Howard has bought her a Google Glass headset. A "what"? Essentially a headset worn in the same manner as a pair of glasses, capable of Smartphone accesses such as Facebook, making videos, taking photographs, receiving emails and calls etc.
Why is that so important? Because that's how the entirety of JERUZALEM is viewed - through Sarah's Google Glass...
On their flight to Tel Aviv, the girls meet fellow American traveller Kevin (Yon Tumarkin). He's a student of Eastern religions but that's not weird enough to deter Sarah from developing the hots for him. As they dock at Tel Aviv, Kevin invites the girls to continue with him via taxi to Jerusalem. They accept the invite.
Booking into a hostel ran by friendly Omar (Tom Graziani), the tourists settle in to a first evening of sightseeing, clubbing and smoking dope. Yes, Sarah keeps her Google Glass for almost all of this time. They continually ignore the end-of-days rantings of a fat street preacher who keeps bumping into them on their travels, of course.
Which, inevitably, turns out to be a bad thing to have done. You see, we've learned via introductory text that there are three gateways to Hell - and one of them is situated in Jerusalem. And we've also been shown "found footage" of a Holy trip that unearthed evidence of demonic possession there. Indeed, Kevin is concerned by the same footage ... albeit, he's distracted easily whenever the possibility of getting sucked or fucked by Sarah crops up.
43 minutes into this film (which is a long time, given that the characters aren't remotely engaging), the grave predictions that Kevin keeps quite easily putting to the back of his mind finally come true: and chaos breaks loose in Jerusalem as the gates of Hell are apparently opened. As the pandemonium reaches fever point, the army try to abate panicked masses by shooting them from their helicopters, and possessed ghouls terrorise the locals on ground level ... the whole debacle continues to be documented via Sarah's product-placement headwear.
What ultimately happens? Who cares. I watched the whole 90 minutes and 46 seconds because I felt an obligation to but, truly, it was an endurance test.
I take no pleasure in saying that. On the contrary, I'm disappointed that JERUZALEM was so shit (though the warnings were there in the title's iffy spelling) because it's often a great-looking film despite its first-person docudrama aesthetic, and has some early moments of promise.
The Israeli locations are beautiful and captured really well via the crisp, warm cinematography. As a travelogue aiming to entice you into visiting Jerusalem, this works extremely well (before the undead turn up, that is). And those early moments of suspense that I mentioned? There are a couple, including Sarah having her bag stolen by a child thief and a later episode where she's lost and her Google Glass navigational App plays up: both scenes elicit tension, but are resolved too quickly.
Later in the film, once the army have commandeered the city and the zombie/demon infestation begins to spread among civilians, the panic is less easy to empathise with. The POV shaky-cam footage becomes tiring, while performances are too weak to effectively convey the fear of monsters in their midst. Also, it has to be said that the last half of this film succumbs really badly to every cliché the "found footage" genre has to offer. And when characters make decisions this DUMB (no spoilers, these all occur in the stupefyingly stupid final half) you can't help but actually wish violent deaths upon them.
So, what are we left with? An attractive young cast, lovely regional visuals and not much else. As I mentioned above, this is a shame because writer-director team The Paz Brothers have a keen eye for stunning visuals, a firm grasp on low-key CGI and - I've no doubt - are genuine fans of the genre.
But this isn't a fun film to sit through. It's a chore. Having read some IMDb reviews after my sitting, I note that some viewers switched off after 10 or 15 minutes. That's a little brutal: I made the whole film, and if I'm being honest I only started to feel aggrieved at having to do so about 40 minutes in...
JERUZALEM is being released uncut in the UK on DVD, courtesy of Matchbox Films/Solo Media.
The screener disc we were sent for review had no menus or extras, but did present the film in a highly attractive, colourful and warm 16x9 transfer which preserved the original 2.35:1 ratio. Sharp, clean and noise-free: it's a great visual proposition.
Likewise, the English 2.0 audio was highly dependable throughout.
Do I recommend JERUZALEM? Lord, no.
Review by Stuart Willis
|Released by Matchbox Films|
|see main review|