JERUZALEM (2015) Review
Directed by Doron and Yoav Paz
To go past grieving for her dead brother, Sarah goes on a trip with her best friend Rachel. But before that, her father gives her a present, a Smart Glass that will be the film’s way of building its narrative in a found footage style. Sure, the use of “Smart Glass” as its camera or making it look like a first person view is kind of sophisticated. It’s still shaky at times but it made it far from creating mistakes of actually not being genuinely careful about its found footage style (like where did that point of view came from? Is there a camera on that part?). Moving on from that, we get to have a female lead and a friend who is also female in a story that is about to get real bad in a you’re-going-to-die-in-a-very-bad-way way.
It started fun, as usual. Being excited to go to Tel Aviv for a vacation, to unwind and just have fun, a girlfriend bonding. As they board the plane, they meet a good-looking anthropologist named Kevin who believes in ancient rituals and demons, and has a deeper reason why he’s traveling to Jerusalem other than vacation. As soon as they land, Kevin invites Sarah and Rachel to come to Jerusalem and even though Rachel doesn’t want to, she was easily persuaded by Sarah because, of course, we wouldn’t get a story if they didn’t.
And as they arrive in Jerusalem, of course weird things start to occur to build up the mystery the location possesses. As usual, a vacation with two pleasing ladies and a guy will not be complete without the parties. While partying, Sarah and Kevin got intimate until he tried the Smart Glass and saw Sarah’s Facebook page and all her photos, including her and her brother which Kevin describes as a douche. Resulting Sarah to walk out of the bar and got lost outside the streets of Jerusalem. The shaky shots are quite an advantage here, especially the first person point of view as jump scares are effective even with jokes. As Sarah feels uneasy with being lost and everything around her looks and feels strange, she happily bumps into Kevin who followed her. Going back to their hostel, they finally got their urges released but the next thing that happened isn’t what you call romantic, at all. Kevin confesses that his travel in Jerusalem involves an investigation about a disturbing video he found. An exorcism of what appears to be a woman who’s possessed with an evil spirit and at the end was shot as she was spreading a bat-like wings. Of course, this came as a big bomb dropped on Sarah as she can’t process it because she likes Kevin and all he showed her was insane. She then told him to just sleep it off but that didn’t help him the day after.
Sarah and Rachel visited a sacred place for Jews in which they insert their prayers in the wall for God to read and grant them but Rachel blames the Lord for the death of his brother so she writes “Bring back my brother A**hole.” Then, a flock of black birds flew away from the wall as if something bad happened to the other side of it.
Kevin had gone more insane as he is the night before, panicking, wanting to leave Jerusalem as soon as possible, not being himself. So their friend who’s a relative of the owner of the hostel they’re staying at decides to take him to a mental facility they saw while roaming around. But they didn’t know that Kevin was right all along. Rachel took a breather on the top of their hostel where a view of the city lies but she witness an airstrike in the city kilometers away from them.
Yes, chaos starts as people are panicking and weird sounds heard from parts of the area. This is the tricky part of the use of Smart Glass, as it gets uncomfortable at dark and when running. But you get that it wants the audience to absorb the events happening. The panick, how the monsters were revealed and how chaotic it is in their position. Rachel and Sarah with the help of the friends they met at the bar including two army men, sprinted their way out of the city, finding a way to get out of the war between the army and they don’t know what yet.
But as they ran and go to the walls, they encounter a woman not in her right mind as she attacked them in a zombie-like way. Then spreaded her bat-like wings, the two army men who are with them shoots her and they escaped. They passed the mental facility where Kevin is, and Sarah without hesitating, wanted to rescue him but Rachel wants to just leave him and be far, safe from the mayhem caused by the attacks of the unknown. Sarah and the two army men rescued Kevin, it was not easy and the two army men gave up and left Sarah but they left the building without getting hurt.
As they arrived at the end of the wall, the army isn’t letting anyone get to the other side for safety reasons so they decided to go back and hide in a church. But nowhere is safe, they needed to leave Jerusalem. Thankfully, one of them knows a way under the church. It was a crazy idea but it’s their only way. But before that, Rachel got scratched by one of the unknown creatures. And she slowly become one of them as they travel under the church to get out of Jerusalem.
It’s really not easy to watch as all the other found footage films released. But the worst part here is the cliched drama of a woman who constantly panics and stops everything for the drama. Yes, there are actually people like that but no one bothers to call it up, making her realize what she needs to be, to do for them to stay alive. And so you might guess what happens next, every other member of their group either turned or got eaten (probably). But Sarah and Kevin got out, with the help of a creature which seemed to be Sarah’s dead brother. As lucky as it may sound, Sarah got a scratch from one of the creatures, while Kevin did survive, it might not be long as more creatures made their way to fly the skies.
Some sequences might work, and the use of the Smart Glass made it easier not to commit mistakes from being a found-footage film. But it still carries the cliches of this genre, and it doesn’t mind having annoying characters and scenes because it needs drama and it needed it for the story to have a big effect for the audience. It’s not scary enough, though. But it has something in it that will interest the audience for some after viewing chitchat.
1.5 OUT OF 5 STARS
“Jeruzalem” is now showing in Philippine cinemas from Pioneer Films. Rated R-16 by the MTRCB.