The new movie “JeruZalem” (yes spelled right- the Z is for zombies) gives us a horrific glance into one of the supposed gates to hell, the one under the city of Jerusalem. Sared Berenson from Epic Pictures shares, “In this award-winning supernatural thriller, two American girls on vacation follow a mysterious and handsome anthropology student on a trip to Jerusalem. The party is cut short when the trio is caught in the middle of a biblical apocalypse. Trapped between the ancient walls of the holy city, the three travelers must survive long enough to find a way out as the fury of hell is unleashed upon them.” With our protagonist Sarah being behind the “camera” for the almost the entire movie, we see through her eyes the zombie apocalypse unfold in the ancient city. Reminiscent of movies like “Cloverfield” and “The Blair Witch Project” we go on a very bumpy ride watching the action through her WiFi enabled Google-type Smart Glass eyeglasses her father gives her, that she wears throughout the film.
Filmed on location in Israel, “JeruZalem” gives a firsthand point-of-view journey to some of the world’s most religious sites never before seen onscreen. When asked at the screening why they chose Jerusalem for the movie, Doron Paz commented. “For years, my brother and I, we loved genre films and horror. We grew up in Tel Aviv and we thought that Jerusalem could be the perfect setting for a horror movie and we wondered why nobody was using it, and so then we thought, okay, it’s time to pick up the glove and just do it. We wanted to show the real history of the city, not like the Jerusalem you see mostly in movies or tourist guides, that sort of thing. Anywhere you go in Jerusalem you could dig down just a few feet and find an artifact- the city is that old.” The movie starts out with the showing of some “found footage” from 1972 of a failed exorcism where the woman dies just to come back as a winged creature that they instantly kill. One of the disturbed witnesses of that event comes into the movie later on to tie that all together with the present time. Fast forward to 2016, enter now two girls (Danielle Jadelyn as Sarah and Yael Grobglas as Rachel) ready to party and on their way to Israel. Not a place most people go for their spring break, but we need to get them to the gates of hell, don’t we? Shot without permission in the real city of Jerusalem, director/writers Doron and Yoav Paz do a great job using the point of view gimmick, especially since to shoot some scenes they had to just come in from different directions, and take off quickly so as not to get caught.
Some of the hi-tech stuff was a bit of a stretch, WiFi from anywhere and the facial recognition on the glasses can even recognize the dead when they have turned into a zombie just out of hell? And taking them off a few times just to show the sex scenes that we always have in horror flicks, was predictable. Using the guerrilla-style footage gave it a vacation video feel and the audience could see what a beautiful old city it is. Although it is to be wondered, where were the thousands of people that I would have imagined to have been in the streets if there really was an apocalypse? With bombings, giant creatures walking the streets, winged zombies attacking everyone, soldiers running around, one would expect more human chaos, more screaming people running a muck, but the streets were for the most part deserted. Also confusing was the mental hospital where people who would claim the end was near when they developed Jerusalem syndrome, a psychosis you could get from visiting holy biblical sites, would be locked up by soldiers. When Sarah goes to save her new boyfriend later in the movie, it looks like it was deserted for a long time, so why would they be locking up people in there?
“Jeruzalem” was an turbulent ride through Israel and what it would be like to see an apocalyptic carnage through two American girls’ eyes in a foreign country. There was some political commentary lost on the Americans and the novelty of the smart glasses wore off after awhile, when we started getting dizzy from the movement. The story line had some other weaknesses, like how did Sarah’s dead brother end up a zombie living under Jerusalem, but overall the Paz Brothers tell an interesting, creative story and give us enough jump scares, and gory scenes to make most horror fans happy. The ending scene was really beautiful and hearing from the directors there was an alternate ending (that Epic Pictures asked them to change) makes me want to own the DVD when it comes out just so I can see it.
“JeruZalem” is the winner of Audience Award & Best Editing at Jerusalem International Film Festival, and winner of Grand Prize at Dracula Film Festival. For more information on the movie go to:
Official Website, JeruZalem twitter, JeruZalem Facebook, Epic Facebook , Epic twitter