I suppose it was inevitable at some point : having emptied the respective wells of every single “found footage” framing device well past the point most of us would consider to be bone dry, a couple of enterprising young indie filmmakers — in this case Israeli low-budget would-be auteurs Doron and Yoav Paz (who have upped the ante in the self-branding department by capitalizing their collective “handle” of “The PAZ Brothers”) — have gone and given us the first “mockumentary” horror filmed through a pair of Google Glasses with their 2015 effort Jeruzalem. It’s a clever enough conceit (that will certainly be done to death within a few years) to keep you watching , to be sure — but is what our protagonist is seeing through her prescription-specific toy worth keeping an eye on? I’ll give you the particulars and you can decide for yourself :
Vacationing students Sarah Pullman (played by Danielle Jadelyn) and Rachel Klein (Yael Groblas) are headed to Tel Aviv along with Rachel’s new high-tech optical gadget when a chance encounter with a reasonably charming anthropologist named Kevin Reed (Yon Tumarkin) triggers an abrupt change of plans that sees our leading ladies checking into a hostel in Jerusalem instead so that Sarah can let’s-not-call-it-pursue-things with Kevin a bit further. Fortunately for Rachel, the joynt’s run by a local twenty-something named Omar (Tom Graziani) who takes a shine to her (and vice-versa), so a double-date of sorts turns into endless days of partying, clubbing, and all that annoying shit college(ish)-age kids do. Until, ya know, one of the gates of Hell (conveniently located right beneath the city) opens up and an onslaught of demonic entities — including one that’s Cloverfield-esque big — show up to usher in the apocalypse. Then all bets are off and fast-paced “survival mode”-style scrambling becomes the order of the day.
Fortunately for us all, Los Bros. Paz (or should that be “PAZ”?) know how to keep the pacing frenetic enough for you to not have time to be too terribly pissed off by the fact that you’ve seen all this before (albeit with the usual “shaky cams”), but their newfound gimmick does get pretty — well, gimmick-y — pretty fast, and the truly wooden and risible dialogue among the various leads goes from “not too annoying” to “okay, yeah, this is pretty goddamn annoying” well before the film hits its halfway point.
All of which, I suppose, makes Jeruzalem sound like something of an endurance test, but it’s really not — the authentic location filming, well-staged chaos, and surprisingly decent CGI certainly keep the proceedings watchable enough, and the actors actually do their level best with the admittedly weak lines they’re asked to regurgitate. So there are any number of points for pure effort alone to be doled out to the principals both in front of and behind the camera here.
Unfortunately, even collectively added together, this flick’s many “pluses” still don’t total up to anything like an essential viewing experience. I caught it on Netflix last night (it’s also available on Blu-ray and DVD is most regions, from what I understand) and it wasn’t the worst way to spend 94 minutes of my existence, but a final verdict of “well, heck, I guess that was worth a look” is hardly a ringing endorsement, is it?
For hard-core “found-footage” fans like myself, sure, Jeruzalem offers an interesting wrinkle on the tried-and-true that makes for a fun enough diversion and/or preview of things to come — but for anyone else, this is strictly “take it or leave it” stuff, and you’re not going to go terribly wrong choosing either option.