The movies are full of stories about people who travel to distance themselves from tragedy. There’s nothing like a good trip abroad to take your mind off your problems. In “JeruZalem,” the first Israeli teen supernatural thriller, American girls Sarah (Yael Grobglas) and Rachel (Danielle Jadelyn) head to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem to help Sarah get over her brother’s death. If the scenery and the history don’t do the trick, perhaps the open gate to hell and subsequent zombie apocalypse will.
“Hell has three gates: One in the desert, one in the sea, and one in Jerusalem.” Not exactly the stuff Sarah and Rachel read about in the tourist brochures. It’s actually an ominous quote from the Talmud that not-so-subtly foretells what is to come. Before all hell breaks loose—literally—the girls meet Kevin (Yon Tumarkin) an archaeologist they playfully nickname Indiana. Almost as soon as they touch down he has a bad feeling about the place but it’s Yom Kippur, the city is shut down and they can’t leave.
“Everything will be fine,” says Sarah to a frenzied Kevin. “We’ll go to Tel Aviv tomorrow night.”
“There’s not going top be a tomorrow night!” he pants. “Something bad is happening here!”
People don’t take his rantings seriously—“This happens here all the time,” they’re told—until it becomes apparent that Judgment Day has come and the dead are walking the streets.
Sibling director the Paz Brothers (Doron and Yoav Paz) take their time setting up the action. “JeruZalem” begins with the dark vision of archival footage of a failed exorcism but then allows us forty-five minutes to get to know the characters. Frankly, there isn’t much to know and the pre-apocalypse scenes drag somewhat.
The Pazi try to keep thing interesting by shooting the entire film in Sarah’s point of view. Just before the trip her father gives her Google Glasses, which, of course she never takes off—except during a brief sex scene—because they’re not just for show, they’re her prescription eyewear. So everything is bumpy-jumpy which is quite exciting when giant winged gargoyles are plaguing them, less so when they are sitting by the pool.
Shot on location in and amongst the monuments of Jerusalem’s Old City the film has gothic production value to spare, some good creature design, some humour—“Sounds like a plan,” says a soldier. “A stupid one, but a plan.”—and the odd jump scare, but with the exception of a rock ‘n roll final shot, the low-budget herky-jerky found footage technique is even less cool than the clunky Google Glasses used to film it.