UK Jewish Film Festival – JeruZalem – Review **

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JeruZalem is a horror film whose main asset is, as its name implies, the Holy City. It’s a film that puts all its eggs in one basket, aiming to be special for being a horror film shot at what is possibly the most culturally and religiously relevant city on the planet, and hoping that effort will be enough to keep the audiences entertained. But audiences, especially horror fans, might be a bit disappointed with what is beneath the surface.

Sarah (Danielle Jadelyn) has recently lost her brother and so her best friend, Rachel (Yael Grobglas), takes her on a trip to party town Tel Aviv. On the way, they meet Kevin (Yon Tumarkin), a surprisingly young and good looking archeologist (i.e. not really that surprising), who promises them a better time in Jerusalem, and so they all venture to a seedy hostel in the Old City. In between the girls having fun with the locals, we are introduced to some mythical elements, and explained Jerusalem holds one of the gates to hell, and that hell would indeed break loose during Yom Kippur, the main holiday in the Jewish calendar. Without spoiling anything, all hell does indeed break loose, and there’re evil, winged monsters to be found.

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The film is shot from the perspective of Sarah’s newly purchased “Smart Glasses” (similar to Google Glasses, which never really became as ubiquitous as Google might have hoped). Aside from some neat tricks with what can be seen on the glasses themselves (face recognition is nowhere as advanced as this film implies), this is a by-the-numbers found footage story. It has jump scares, a very shaky camera, and long periods of confusion. Add in average acting, and fairly dumb decisions on the part of our protagonists, and you’ve got yourself an average horror film.

Directed by the Israeli Paz Brothers, Doran Paz and Yoav Paz, JeruZalem borrows heavily and freely from countless recent horror films, from Cloverfield (big monsters lurking), going through The Descent (there’s some creepy shots inside King Solomon’s cave system), to even zombie and exorcism movies at points. As such, it seems like a mishmash of every horror movie idea that can be crammed into 90 minutes, which makes it constantly lose focus to what really makes it unique: the setting.

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And what a setting it is. Jerusalem is indeed a glorious city, and you get beautiful glimpses of the Old City while all the craziness occurs. Tight corridors, old architecture, a rich cultural history, this city is ripe with horror film opportunities. Unfortunately, this film works better as a “Visit Jerusalem” tourism piece than as an actual movie, as it never really becomes scary or engaging enough to sustain its wacky end of the days premise.

JeruZalem is slated for release in 2016

Daniel moved from the faraway land of Chile, to live and work in the exciting world of London media. After studying Industrial Engineering, he decided that life is more than spreadsheets and chose to follow his passion for cinema. He has a deep appreciation for all sorts of movies, and is aiming towards producing in the long term.