JeruZalem (2015)

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In Marc Forster’s World War Z (2013), the Jerusalem sequence – which was in fact not even shot in Jerusalem – offered a clumsily Islamophobic allegory of local politics for an American audience, with its zombies figured as monomaniacal Middle Eastern hordes trying to break though a giant encircling barrier reminiscent – and resonant – of the controversial Wall that is already there.

Jeruzalem, directed by the Paz brothers (Doron and Yoav), goes to considerable lengths to redress this, by bringing three American tourists to the real Jerusalem where Jew, Muslim and Christian are seen – however uncomfortably – to coexist, and where the undead are creatures from the Old Testament and the Talmud.

Americans Sarah (Danielle Jadelyn), Rachel (Yael Grobglas) and Kevin (Yon Tumarkin) go on a holiday to Israel, where, after much drinking, drug taking and sex, they are confronted with an apocalyptic event in Jerusalem that may just mark the Judgement Day, when all the good deeds and sins of humanity are weighed. Jeruzalem opens with some basic ‘found footage’ shot in 1976, before cutting to the present, where everything is shown, POV-style, through Sarah’s high-tech ‘Smart Glasses’. This allows for some ingenious storytelling techniques, as Sarah’s perspective can constantly be enhanced with social media data, wiki pages, Skype conversations, maps, and even an ironised series of text messages from daddy as we watch his sweet little girl mounted naked on Kevin. If the first use to which Sarah puts her glasses is to play a bloody first-person-stabber horror VG superimposed on the rooms of her own home, this will eventually become a very different, if no less horrific reality in Jerusalem, with far graver consequences.

There is too much subjectivised sightseeing and meandering character business in the first two acts, which will have most viewers aching for at least a little bit of armageddon – but once the Resurrection has finally commenced, the Nephilim have begun walking the earth and the Dark Angels have started spreading their wings, all hell breaks loose, and millennia of religious and racial tensions are given a postmodern Bibilical form. Best of all, the directors revealed in the Q&A that they were granted permission to shoot in so many of Jerusalem’s sacred sites by authorities who believed they were making a documentary, with the CG monsters added in later as a dark underside to the city’s already complex reality.

Anton Bitel