When a couple of American young adults fly to Israel to visit the city of Jerusalem, a biblical nightmare falls upon the city
With the film market being oversaturated with found footage and point-of-view horror movies, some sort of twist is becoming necessary in order to find an audience. People aren’t interested in seeing the standard “person holding a camera” movies popularized by The Blair Witch Project. That form of cinematography has grown old. Yet, inventiveness has kept it going. Different technological innovations have allowed different ways to capture point-of-view camerawork.
One of the more interesting ways was presented in JeruZalem, an Israeli horror film that got a limited American theatrical release in 2016. The movie followed two young women from New Jersey as they travelled to Tel Aviv for vacation, only to be persuaded to go to Jerusalem instead. While in the holiest of cities, demonic things began happening and the girls, along with their new friends, attempt to escape.
Most people would write JeruZalem off as another in a long line of found footage movies trying to ride the waves of this style. There was more effort put into JeruZalem than many other movies of this type. Instead of being a simple handheld camera, the movie spiced things up by filming through a pair of Google Glasses. There have been instances in other films where characters wear glasses with cameras. However, this time we got to see user interface details that made for a better experience. It was a quick, easy way to give character profiles through social networking sites, show videos without needing everyone to sit around a computer, and have interactions with characters who were not present. Technology helped tell the story.
Although the story was a solid tale, JeruZalem was soaked in what has already come before in horror. There were moments scattered throughout the movie that felt like they were lifted from other movies. This was a compilation of found footage beats that audiences know and love. It didn’t hurt the movie to recognize these moments. They were still entertaining, shocking, and thrilling. It made JeruZalem feel like an Israeli love letter to found footage.
One interesting aspect is that, though an Israeli film, JeruZalem was presented in English. The actors spoke English for the majority of the movie. This might fit into the love letter aspect. The filmmakers could have wanted American audiences to watch the movie and appreciate their love for found footage. The flip side is that they might have simply wanted an audience. There was no reason to make the main characters American other than to have people speaking English. A movie with English speaking characters will get a bigger North American audience than a foreign movie with English subtitles or dubbing. Speaking English could have been for a monetary reason. Either way, it made digesting it on a pure entertainment level easier for general audiences.
It would be a disservice if I did not mention that there are religious aspects to JeruZalem. Religion plays a large part in the movie. The movie begins with the text “…there are three gates to hell. One in the desert, one in the ocean, and one in Jerusalem.” You know right off the bat that religion is going to play a part in the movie. Something is going to happen with that gate to hell. I’m not going to go into detail about that because it would ruin the latter half of the movie, but let’s say that there were demonic creatures that showed up.
JeruZalem was a fun ride. Watching the characters make the most of their vacation only to have it cut short when all hell breaks loose made for a good hour and a half. It isn’t prefect by any stretch of the imagination, but nothing is. It is still entertaining and that’s all that matters. If you’re into the found footage aesthetic, 20-somethings living it up before having their fun taken away, and demonic horror, this could be for you. It certainly worked for me.