JeruZalem centers on two 20 something American girls who fly to Israel for vacation and to party in Tel Aviv. When they spontaneously decide to travel to the city of Jerusalem, a biblical nightmare falls upon the city as a gateway to Hell opens.
Talk about your classic case of bad timing! Of all the places to travel to and all the days to do it, our young American protagonists choose Jerusalem the day before a gate to Hell opens up. Yikes...
I must admit that it was a bit hard to buy into these two young American girls deciding to fly across the world to go to Israel to vacation and party. Just seems a bit...far fetched. But, let's chalk that up to plot development and get into the movie!
JeruZalem boasts a “found footage” angle but that's not entirely accurate. There is a twist to the gimmick as the story is shown through a pair of GoogleGlass type glasses worn by Sarah (Danielle Jadelyn), one of the films leads. It's more like “live stream” footage.
The movie opens with a back story explaining the gateway to Hell in Jerusalem and it comes across as wholly unnecessary, and explaining the existence and story beforehand doesn't necessarily add anything to the film or story. I'd rather go in cold without an explanation, because any explanation to a story like this just always seems a bit silly.
When the girls, Sarah and Rachel (Yael Grobglas), arrive in Jerusalem it gets a little annoying hearing from the locals how beautiful the girls are over and over again. We get it, we get it, they're good looking people. The entire first half of the film plays as a cross between a smart glasses commercial and a Jerusalem travel brochure and it seems very messy with things happening to serve the plot way more than any type of character development. To be honest, it's a bit of a challenge to get through. Some positives from the first half are the use of the old city as a backdrop to the impending chaos. Jerusalem lends itself nicely to set up a creepy atmosphere using the maze like alley ways and shadows cast by the angular and old stone buildings to great effect. Yael Grobglas also does a great job in her role. She has a natural high energy about her and seems very talented and likeable. Unfortunately she has to fight through a bit of an annoying character here but she's definitely an actress to keep an eye on.The 48 minute mark is where the movie starts to hit it's stride and get interesting very quickly. Everything begins to click: the smart glasses footage angle, the acting, the sound, and the overall sense of confusion and chaos work wonderfully. JeruZalem becomes a cross between REC and Cloverfield as all Hell (literally) breaks loose, it even offers a couple cool twists.
The sound is of note here, completely invading every scene and perfectly dragging the viewer into the Armageddon on screen which has great creature effects. We see fantastically dark, demon silhouettes with large ripped wings that look like shredded curtains in an old haunted house. There is also a giant Godzilla sized demon marching around the city that doesn't get nearly enough screen time but whose glimpses are a bit startling. The mix of effects and sound are very scary and effective.
After a very shaky first half, JeruZalem really picks it up in the second half and turned out to be pretty decent. I just wish the set up had been done better because each half felt like two different movies, a tale of two cities if you will: the pre-apocalyptic Jerusalem and the post-apocalyptic JeruZalem with the quality and style of the second half far outweighing that of the first.
Tread carefully into JeruZalem, if you can get past the weak and meandering first half, the second half offers some great style and tension. Half a good movie is not a bad one, but it's not a great one either.