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JERUZALEM (Israel 2015) ***
Directed by the Paz Brothers
Review by Gilbert Seah
Touted as the first Israeli zombie horror film, JERUZALEM (the Z in the word referring to ‘zombie’) takes many lessons from the found footage low budget horror flicks from the U.S. In fact, the main two characters are American girls travelling to the old city of Jerusalem. They were supposed to go to Tel Aviv when they get side-tracked by a cutie fellow-traveller to go visit Jerusalem, a decision that they will soon regret.
Sarah Pullman (Danielle Jadelyn) and her best friend, Rachel (Yael Grobglas) are partying it up. They dance, meet boys, drink, do drugs (not the hard ones) and have sex. So when they meet cutie, Kevin (Yon Turmarkin), they are easily convinced to go to Jerusalem. They meet a tour guide, an Arab, Omar (Tom Graziani).
The politics of the film are present but the conflict between the Palestinians and Jews are kept at a minimum. Soldiers are always present but their main enemy switches from the Palestinians to the zombies.
The film begins, seriously enough with a quote from the Book of Jeremiah, Chapter 19 in the Old Testament. The audience is informed from the text that there are 3 gateways to hell – the ocean, the desert and the third, Jerusalem. A woman is resurrected from the dead only to sprout winds, then shot. The first two thirds of the film are free and easy flowing with the zombies and real horror only occurring during the last third.
The first two third sees the two girls touring the city, smoking hashish an having a great time. The two are quite funny and everything is seen from the point of view of an app on Sarah’s cell phone. When they enter an underground cave, the words fatal error, or no connection flashes on the screen, as on a cell phone. This tactic is carried out throughout the film, and is quite funny, despite it being repeatedly used. As such, the Paz Brothers (Yoav and Doron), who also penned the script appear very tech-savvy with the film obviously aimed at the younger crowd who will go everywhere with their iphone, iPad or laptop.
Everyone seems to be having a hilarious time – the directors, crew and actors and this rubs off on the audience.
When the zombies attack, the film wanes a bit, as the film falls back to familiar horror film territory, which audiences are already too familiar with. But the Paz Brothers keep it funny. Rachel gets infected by the zombie virus and is slowly turning into one. When Sarah sees the wound, she tells Rachel, so as not to alarm her: “It is nothing, it is just a scratch!” That is probably the film’s funniest line, used again later on. Another character utters too as they scramble to escape through the underground caves: “Don’t know what’s happening out there, but I hope the good guys are winning!” And Sarah says: “It’s all a fucking video game!”
The film also offers the audience a good touristy look at Jerusalem, for what is – the old buildings, the market bazaars and the temples.
Despite a few flaws, the Paz Brothers keep their film stylish, hilarious and scary while being smart and entertaining at the same time.
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