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[Netflix Digest] – Jeruzalem & The Invoked…

 

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Posted October 5, 2016 by

 
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A review digest for films you can watch right now on Netflix!

Jeruzalem

jeruzalem

The zombie sub-genre, above all others in horror, seems to be the most undead. Vampires had their time in the moonlight with Twilight and True Blood, but it’s gone to rest for the most part. Werewolves always make an appearance in film and TV on a yearly basis. But zombie movies number in the thousands and more rise every year. If the big ‘Z’ in the title doesn’t make it clear, JERUZALEM is a zombie movie, but it could also be a commercial for Israel or even Google Glass. I’m not sure. Will I figure out by the end of this review? Read on.

JeruZalem begins with an extended voiceover prologue. We learn that there are three gates to hell. One is in the ocean, the other in the desert, and the third … in Jerusalem! Dun-dun-dun! It’s 1972, and two priests are called in to witness a supernatural event. Since it’s decades old footage, the filmmakers went with a little shaky-cam and the Instagram “vintage” filter.

Israeli directors Doron and Yoaz Paz (credited as “The Paz Brothers”) take us through the film via a first-person style much like HARDCORE HENRY or many found footage films. The visuals are clean and handled well so as to not leave the viewer clueless or disoriented. The first 30 minutes of the movie feels like a tourist promotion video for Israel. However, for me, this kind of camera work needs explanation within the reality of the film. Here, the view is coming from a Google Glass. I suspect Google helped this movie financially because they use the version of Glass from the teaser commercial. I’ve used Google Glass; it’s not at all like that commercial. But this film has us believe that the Glass shoots flawless digital video, records perfect sound, and has extraordinary battery life.

JeruZalem borrows the fast zombies made popular by 28 Days Later with the demonic virus of REC and includes just about all the customary scenes from zombie movies. Though, to be fair, I don’t recall seeing the “dragged away from the camera” moment. A unique feature of the zombies here is decayed wing-stocks that allow the creatures to fly making them more demonic than the classic risen dead. Unfortunately, other than the particular style of demon-zombie, the film offers little new. The setting is used effectively, but the story simply meanders through the same old thing.

I would put JeruZalem a grade above the average SyFy movie. Production values are elevated, as are the writing and acting, but with that said it’s still forgettable entertainment. In the end, I thought more about the day when Google Glass will be as the technology from Strange Days than any the random demon-zombie action that went on.

Ratings:

Direction 3
Writing 2.5
Performance 3
Sound & Music 2
Cinematography 2.5
Editing 2.5
Visual Effects 2.5

 

 

The Invoked

invoked

I enjoy movies all kinds. From experimental art-house to Sharknado and everything in between. As a critic, I try my best to avoid trashing a film because, at the end of the day, it’s someones hard work. But then I click on a movie called THE INVOKED, and that little rule of mine goes right out the window. I wish I could say that the cinematic hell unleashed by the invoked was a horror thrill-ride, but it’s not. The Invoked is a hellish cinematic ride into one of the hardest movies genres to get right: found footage.

The Invoked is the story of a group of obnoxious friends who take a trip to an abandoned youth hostel in Ireland for a weekend of spooky fun. As per the genre, they constantly try to one-up each other with random, seemingly pointless dialogue. There is almost no difference between the characters aside from gender. You can mix and match the dialogue with the characters, and nothing would change here. Other genre tropes include “the legend” where one character tells the eerie story of what happened before. Of course, another character dismisses it, yet another is irked by the story, and we move on. As with nearly every found footage movie, essentially nothing happens for half the time. I suspect this is to lull the audience into a state of calm before a door, or some object inexplicably swings open, then the actors scream, the camera goes all over the place, and we’re supposed to be scared. Yet, these movies always undermine themselves with their most common trope: the opening message. You know it well. The footage is discoveredafter a number of young, hot people went missing. Law enforcement took the footage and neatly edited it into a film for reasons unknown.

Humberto Roas and Thairon Mendes direct this journey into regurgitation. Their combined efforts are a masterclass of what not to do with a found footage film. Whole swaths of the movie are so dark that it’s impossible to know what is going on. Camera angles exist that seem unrealistic in the reality the film is trying to have viewers buy into. The future victims are at an abandoned hostel that, for reasons unknown, has night-vision, security cameras that still work.

I can’t fault the actors in this movie. There’s almost nothing in the script to work with here. And credit should be given to people who have trained to become other people who then have to pretend to be regular, untrained people as they occasionally talk into the camera. If fact, as an actor in this film I’d be upset that half the time your face (the money maker) is drowned in darkness or super-shaky camera movements. It boils down to weeks or months of work that can barely be seen.

Watch The Invoked only if … You have to because you’re a film critic like me. Or, you really love found footage flicks. I mean REALLY love them. Or, you just have no hope left in life for films, and you need a nudge over the edge of the cliff. I don’t think I’ve ever been as harsh on a movie as I have been in this review, but The Invoked deserves no coat of sugar. I’ve watched better films at local film festivals made in a matter of days with no budget. The luck of the Irish did not grace this film.

Ratings:

Direction 1
Writing 1
Performance 2
Sound & Music 1
Cinematography 1
Editing 1
Visual Effects 1

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Ruben R. Diaz
@RMartian
Freelance Contributor

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