Tuesday, January 19, 2016

JeruZalem (2015)

There are three gates to hell-one in the desert, one in the ocean and one in Jerusalem- opening quote from the Talmud

Found footage film follows Sarah and Rachel as they travel to Jerusalem with Kevin an anthropology student they met on the plane, unfortunately this is just as the apocalypse hits. The film is told via Sarah's Google glasses like eye wear.

The first five minutes of the film that explains it all the premise behind the story is creepy as all hell. Setting a heavy mood of dread it sucks you.  These five minutes are a kind of mini movie about the first case of the dead returning to life. Its a scary little piece with a gotcha ending.

From there the film shifts gears to follow the girls as they travel to Israel.  They make some friends and things get ugly as the dead return or rather dark angels inhabit the bodies of the dead and giants walk the earth.

I have to say that to some one who dislikes the found footage genre  the  POV of the glasses is a found footage conceit  that actually makes sense. It logically and believably explains why we see all that we are seeing. While I have grown to hate the genre, I think here it works and aids in the story telling.

 I really loved this film a great deal. It kind of blindsided me from it's opening mini-movie, to its characters who aren't assholes (a rarity in found footage films), to the conceit that actually works, onward to some really "WTF was that?!" moments, this is a really good horror fantasy. It honestly and truly works on it's own merits with no need to accept anything because of the genre or anything thing else.

Is it scary? Not so much scary as very very tense. Once things get going and literally all hell is breaking loose the film keeps us on edge as we wonder what we are going to see next, zombie? demon? giant? one never knows. The result is a film that is a great deal of fun and really suspenseful.

There are a couple of minor missteps that kept me from calling the film a classic. First I don't really like the injection of humor into the film. The occasional popups of cat videos when the glasses break, music from the glasses at inappropriate times or texts from dad during sex aren't really necessary and distract from the mood that the film is creating

I'm also slightly torn about the pacing of the film. In some ways the film suffers from taking a bit too long to get into overdrive, we are over half way in before it gets crazy. While it makes up for lost time (and wonderfully moves like the wind) once things start, one can't help but ponder how much cooler this might have been if we had a bit more madness earlier. On the other hand once things do go nuts the tension is amped up because the directors took the time to give us a whole bunch of characters we  actually care about- so maybe I'm wrong- and just wanted more of the good stuff they give us in the end.

Quibbles aside this is a damn good horror film and one of the best found footage films you'll run across. Highly recommended.

JERUZALEM opens in theaters and on VOD on January 22nd.

(And no like 99.99% of the found footage films we never find out how we are seeing what we are seeing.)

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