“Jeruzalem” has a limited theatrical release starting today. While it wasn’t released in Houston, it is available on VOD as well.
A year has passed since Sarah’s (Danielle Jadelyn) brother passed away and she still hasn’t fully recovered. Her best friend Rachel (Yael Grobglas) decides to swoop in and take her to the partying, night-time fueled city of Tel Aviv, Israel in an effort to help Sarah forget about her troubles. On the flight there they meet Kevin (Yon Tumarkin), an archaeology buff who desperately wants to be Indiana Jones but settles on obsessing about the apocalypse instead. Kevin talks Rachel and Sarah into taking a little detour to Jerusalem before heading to Tel Aviv. Their journey that unfolds is a descent into hell that even inebriation can’t fix.
Written and directed by Doron and Yoav Paz, “Jeruzalem” is an Israeli horror film shown from Sarah’s perspective. Sarah wears Google Glass throughout the film, which is basically a smartphone in the form of eyeglasses. While many documentary style and shaky camera horror films have used this perspective before, “Jeruzalem” utilizes applications from Google Glass like its GPS, facial recognition, and even video games, to add something unique to a filming technique that has otherwise run its course.
There are so many things “Jeruzalem” does right. Its use of foreshadowing is unbelievable as so many elements introduced early on are foretelling something that will occur later on in the film. It also establishes an intensely claustrophobic atmosphere. While the film takes place in an entire city, everything seems to be designed to make the viewer feel trapped. Alleyways are massively narrow and crowded, buildings are often very close to one another, and there seems to be masses of people around every corner. What the film is able to accomplish with its limited budget is also extraordinary. This army of the undead has some moments that are truly filled with terror while the cave and loony bin sequences can undeniably be considered the film’s highlights.
“Jeruzalem” is a bit slow to get going as half the film is devoted to exploring a new city, partying, and almost having sex in a graffiti-cluttered bathroom. The acting isn’t terrible, but some of the cast is lacking in comparison to the others. Yael Grobglas shines whenever the camera is pointed at her while the town lunatic, David (Itsko Yampulski), is the most entertaining character in the film despite having so little screen time. Most of the film’s weaker points rest on the shoulders of both Yon Tumarkin and Danielle Jadelyn who both seem to over or under act once it’s required to act scared and panicked.
Several moments in the film are extremely predictable. The Omar character (played by Tom Graziani) is misleading from the start, characters in horror films that have sex, drink, and do drugs typically suffer the same fate, and a character who wears glasses is probably going to be clumsy. Even with its shortcomings though, “Jeruzalem” is surprisingly solid and shows a ton of potential for the Paz brothers.
If human beings are incapable of being perfect, why does film have to meet this imaginary expectation of being flawless? “Jeruzalem” is filled with imperfections, but its message filled with apocalyptic destruction, incurable disease, and flying demons overflowing with the desire to rip the flesh from your face is felt and heard and seen in a way even blockbuster films are sometimes incapable of capturing. “Jeruzalem” is this gloriously morbid and dreadfully delicious blend of “[Rec]” and “As Above, So Below.”