Writer-director team the Paz Brothers masqueraded as a documentary film crew to make their horror fiction in Israel’s holy city. The result offers documentary realism to the chilling apocalypse that ensues…
When two American girls happen upon a chance for a student trip to Israel’s holy city Jerusalem, they can’t believe their luck. The anthropology student going with them isn’t exactly someone they trust, but a Middle Eastern adventure is not something they’re about to miss out on.
Their excited anticipation is met by beautiful city landscapes, mysterious trails and exotic places of worship. The ancient walls unravel wonder after wonder in a enclosed paradise that truly is worthy of it’s title as God’s city. With all light there must be dark, and very soon they discover they are about to question their understanding of religion and folklore.
The religious mecca becomes a labyrinth of fear when unexpected events and sightings of unearthly creatures transform the once beautiful city. What were once places of amazing discoveries, the winding alleys and secret chambers of the city become open to the possibility of a biblical gateway to hell.
The Paz Brothers filmed on location, with permission to shoot a documentary, which gives an authenticity to the film that’s unimaginable from a film set. The brothers spoke at Frightfest horror film festival in the UK earlier this year about sacred places and their feature. A human survival story above all else that hinges on religious settings and elements of mysticism. It’s not a film about religion as such, it’s more about the “what if” scenario of an apocalypse and facing your own survival.
Apocalypse films aren’t exactly few and far between. Dramas, thrillers, horrors and fantasies, but they usually feature a barren wasteland of hopelessness; The Road and Mad Max: Fury Road are a few recent examples. JeruZalem focuses on the boundaries of the confined city which gives it a very different feel. The claustrophobia that you get with the horror genre fits in snuggly here, taking ideas of tension-building from the likes of The Hole and The Descent. The source of fear here is also contained neatly in the same maze as our American tourists put themselves in.
It’s not a big budget horror and the CGI demons do show it. What does come through is the labour of love on the filmmaking process. The years in the making lends well to the dedicated unveiling of the horror narrative, the use of the city spaces and the careful use of camerawork to create the right atmosphere. Handheld cameras feature heavily but very suitably for the tourism element. The lighting is impressive in it’s use of naturalism. The colour saturation isn’t played with too much and lends to chilly sensations of cold shadowy stoneworks that contrast perfectly with the bright heat of the daytime in a tourist destination hotspot.
I wouldn’t go as far as believable horror, but it certainly sucks you into the city. Those heart wrenching moments of jumpy tension are found in abundance and for me, that’s enough to merit a watch.
Written by Laura Shearer
Directed by: The PAZ brothers
Written by: The PAZ brothers
Starring: Yael Grobglas, Yon Tumarkin, Danielle Jadelyn
Released: 2015 / Genre: Horror / Country: USA / IMDB / More reviews: Latest | Archive
JeruZalem is out now on DIGITAL & DVD and available through Amazon.co.uk here