The first 45 minutes of the found-footage horror flick JeruZalem highlight the best and worst of what the Paz Brothers have brought to the table early on in 2016. The best being the rich and beautiful city of Jerusalem- ripe with lush landscapes and admirable architecture. The worst? Plodding character development, and a bafflingly terrible supporting performance Yon Tumarkin.
What is JeruZalem exactly? In short it is the unholy spawn of movies like [Rec], Cloverfield, and As Above So Below. The film plants spoiled rich girl, Sarah (Danielle Jadelyn), on a trip to Tel Aviv with her BFF, Rachel (Yael Groblas), but are wooed by a fellow traveler, Kevin (Tumarkin), into temporarily diverting their trip to Jerusalem for some sights and sound of the storied city. Their wonderment and fun is cut short when the gates of Hell open, unleashing a horde of unholy winged demons upon them.
The events of JeruZalem unfold entirely from the point-of-view of Sarah's recently gifted smart glasses (basically Google Glass, without actually calling them Google Glass). This technique isn't entirely new, but it offers the Paz Brothers some unique opportunities in utilizing humor and tension. Particularly noteworthy is a scene later in the movie when the glasses attempt to use the facial recognition feature when Sarah is shrouded in darkness with demonic growls all around her. Unfortunately, even with some clever tweaks to the found-footage formula the film cannot juke its way out of harms way and the film succumbs all to often to the genre's clichéd pitfalls.
Even the film's unique picturesque setting is lost in the background when all Hell (literally) breaks loose. The wide-open landscapes and beautiful scenery are chucked away for dark alleys and corridors that kill the film's sense of setting. The creatures that are on the hunt in the second and third acts look cool in fleeting glances- which is most of the time as Sarah often looks away when cool stuff is going down- but the more we see of them, the less scary they become.
It would seem as though the Paz Brothers have a firm grasp on concept, but moving forward could use a helping hand in the writing department. Still, the low budget of it all has to be taken into account and for that the filmmaking duo deserve a firm pat on the back, but the mind groans at the thought of what could have been.
JeruZalem's gigantic lumbering demon (seen only in a couple quick glances) and Sarah's shrill shrieking in the last two acts comprise the broad strokes that best paint the film as a whole. The Paz Brother's certainly have potential, but JeruZalem essentially is just a mysterious beast of a film loaded with potential, but is lost in the noisy incoherence of its script as translated on the screen.