Directed by: Doron and Yoav Paelf,
Starring: Danielle Jadelyn, Yon Tumarkin, Yael Grobglas, Tomday of atone Graziani
As a graduation gift, Sarah Pullman receives a pair of Google Glasses, on the eve of a special trip with her best friend Rachel to Israel. Arriving at the start of Yom Kippur, Rachel and Sarah's holiday starts with a blast, meeting new friends and having a wild time. However on the day of atonement itself, demons start to erupt forth and the city is barricaded off from outside the city gates. Now, Rachel, Sarah and their new friends must battle malevolent forces to survive...
JeruZalem is the latest in a long line of "found footage" films, and while it does provide a lot of good special fx work and a reasonably epic scope, it also highlights some of the problems and pitfalls of the genre.
Let’s talk about the format the film is presented in. At the beginning of the film, Sarah is given a pair of Google Glasses by her father, and the whole film from that point is presented from that perspective (whether the film was in fact shot on Google Glass is a moot point). So on one hand, the film could be looked at as merely a 90 minute advert, showing off many of the device’s apps and attributes – even when they get damaged. However in some ways, the film shows how horrifically intrusive the glasses can be. Right at the start, when Rachel and Sarah meet Kevin, the glasses are using facial recognition software to look up Kevin’s name, his facebook page etc – all without having being asked to do so. Surely that would warrant a few red flags?
As she is the wearer of the glasses, Sarah rarely appears on-screen, except in the reflection of mirrors and a misjudged scene where she hands the glasses to her friend while she prepares to perform oral sex on him. Her presence is marked therefore mostly via her voice. Everything we perceive in the film is from Sarah’s unique perspective, and this restricts the film’s narrative structure.
There are a few atmospheric moments in the first half of the film, which is mostly taken up with Sarah and Rachel meeting new friends, shopping, sight seeing and hanging out. The city of Jerusalem lends itself well to this type of tale with lots of narrow cobbled streets and religious iconography. The film spends a lot of time on build-up, allowing us to try to get to know these people and to provide a certain amount of exposition. One of the things I liked was the lack of exposition regarding Yom Kippur itself.
When things suddenly go bad, when the sirens start, there is a palpable sense of panic and the film starts to come into its own, somewhat. Like Cloverfield, JeruZalem is using a very personable media format to capture being part of something epic in scope. There are great shots of a helicopter gunship, for example, seen from below as it fires upon something unseen be the people on the ground. Later on, giant monsters are seen, slightly out of focus, lumbering around in the distance. Then there are more immediate demonic threats who readily whittle down the protagonists.
Overall the whole filmof JeruZalem puts me in mind of a theme park ride. The first half is when I'm queueing to get on the ride itself, whereas in the second half I'm on rails, being driven from one place to the next where a spooky encounter will occur. It provides some decent thrills along the way but there is hardly any narrative to speak of. The one genuinely pleasing moment comes when the Google Glass's face recognition software comes into its own towards the end.
JeruZalem is aiming for a story as big as Cloverfield in terms of scope, ad it does achieve a feeling the our protagonists are involved in something far bigger than they are even aware of. My problem with it is it takes forever to get started and when it does, it feels we're being towed along a pre-determined and rehearsed course.
7 out of 10 (MikeOutWest)