The point-of-view, found-footage horror movie was an innovation when “The Blair Witch Project” cast a spell on audiences in 1999 and made a terrifying profit of almost $250 million worldwide. But after a decade and a half of “Paranormal Activity” and “Grave Encounters” and hundreds of others, the conceit brings more yawns than yipes.
Israeli filmmaking brothers Doron and Yoav Paz deserve credit for an original approach to the genre with “JeruZalem,” replacing the video cameras and smartphones with a Google Glass-type device, presumably streaming everything in view for cloud storage (even when the smart glasses can’t find an Internet connection — just don’t think too much about it).
Through the perspective of a Smart Glass set, we follow Jewish twentysomethings Sarah Pullman (Danielle Jadelyn) and her best friend, Rachel Klein (Yael Grobglas), on a trip to Israel that has no religious motivation, even though they arrive just days before Yom Kippur. Sarah is trying to get over the accidental death of her brother a year earlier; Rachel is just looking for a good time.
A chance meeting on the flight to Israel leads the friends to head to Jerusalem instead of Tel Aviv, which is unfortunate based on a bit of Scripture we learn during the prologue: There are three gates to hell, one in the desert, one in the ocean and one in Jerusalem. If only they knew that the use of the letter z in the movie’s title was the universal sign for “zombie.”
Again, the Paz brothers did well to connect the current zombie craze to the Bible, the holy city and Yom Kippur. They get top scores for creativity, including a closing image that gives new meaning to the Israel Defense Forces’ mission to defend the Jewish people.
But how entertaining you find “JeruZalem” ultimately depends on your feelings about found-footage films. If you’re counting the days until “Paranormal 12,” you’ll love it. If all the shaking and cutting and choppiness annoy you, skip it.