‘Jeruzalem’ Brings Formulaic Mayhem to The Old City

It opens with some potential, alluding to biblical prophecies that could have made it distinct from the countless films just like it.

Jeruzalem tells the story of Sarah and Rachel (Danielle Jadelyn and Yael Grobglas), friends taking a vacation in Israel. The movie is mainly told from the perspective of Sarah, who throughout the movie is wearing a Google Glass-type device. She and Rachel intend to spend their time partying in Tel Aviv, but are convinced by Kevin, a guy they meet on the plane, to go to Jerusalem instead. Unfortunately for the two of them, the city goes into a full-blown biblical apocalypse while they're there. The two must find a way out of the Old City, which is now overrun by winged, undead monsters.

The one thing the movie has going for it is its setting. The Old City of Jerusalem is just an amazing place, and the movie gets a lot out of the ancient surroundings. The film has the characters traveling through its darkest alleyways, its liveliest markets, its most beautiful structure, and its terrifying underground. If nothing else, the movie is able to provide audiences with a pretty unique location, one that hasn't really been featured in a lot of mainstream movies.

But that's the extent of the appeal of this movie, which mainly trades in the clichés of the genre. It opens with some potential, alluding to biblical prophecies that could have made it distinct from the countless films just like it. But in the end, the movie retreats from that particular flavor as it pursues something far more generic. The intriguing religious backdrop takes a backseat to more standard horror fare, the kind of formulaic nonsense that mainly relies on the characters being too dumb to survive.

The method of shooting must he discussed. The gimmick here is that the main character is wearing smart glasses, which the movie basically treats as a magical, always-on device with infinite battery life and incredible, totally unethical face recognition technology. Despite the lack of verisimilitude, it's not a terrible idea in concept, as it at least provides some variation in what pops up on screen, and it gives the film the ability to avoid long bits of expository dialogue. Except it doesn't work that way. Like every other camera in most of these found footage horror movies, the device is a matter of convenience rather than a contributor to immersion.

The film doesn't provide internal logic for how the device works, and basically makes its more useful functions unavailable when the characters need them. It just becomes distracting, and a means of inducing motion sickness. It is also an excuse to hide the scares, the camera always shaking out of control in the rare times that something actually happens. But it is the characters that make this film so hard to watch. A lot of what happens in this movie is due to the characters acting against his or her own self-interest. The movie seems dead set on making these characters act stupidly, which makes investing in their survival a challenge. It also doesn't help that the acting isn't very good. This may be due to the fact that the primary leads are Israeli, and are pretending to be American.


Jeruzalem fails to take advantage of its most unique elements. It never elaborates on the specifics of its brand of apocalypse, and instead gets vague with the application of standard horror tropes. So it's young people in a foreign land enjoying themselves, ignoring warnings of danger before having to fight their way out of a horrific situation. The unusual setting gives the film a modicum of appeal, but the script and the filmmaking never live up to the strangeness of the location. The movie is too content with being unremarkable.

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