Streaming video is great! However, it’ll never be my favorite way to watch a movie because you usually have to rely on a catalog you do not control, the picture quality can sometimes suffer depending on the time you watch it, and internet is unpredictable with a tendency to go out when you’re in the middle of something. On Monday, I was watching Film 11 of my 31 Days of Horror on Netflix when the internet went kerplunk. So, I had to finish it Tuesday night, and now we get a twofer!
I have a thing against movies that spell their titles in a silly way or make up new words. (Screw you, Lucky Number Slevin.) So, when I added JeruZalem to my 31 Days of Horror, I did so with a groan and an eye roll.
This is a ‘found footage’ horror film from Israel that follows a couple of young American women on vacation to Jerusalem. They meet friends from various backgrounds, they get an idea of the many opposing views living in close quarters, and they party whenever they get a chance. Then the apocalypse happens. Don’t you just hate it when that happens?! The American girls and their new friends try to flee the city as apocalyptic monsters rise out of the ground to spread Hell’s wrath.
The best part is the opening. Played like a creepy ‘unsolved mystery’ tape, we watch a ‘leaked’ tape from the Vatican of the time when holy men of various faiths were called to Jerusalem to deal with a demonically possessed woman. Ultimately they must turn to the Holy Handgun of Antioch to finish the job. It’s a creepy, weird, and cool sequence that deals with faith and mythologies about Hell in a different way… then the film becomes just another found footage horror movie.
Now, I generally like found footage stuff. I’ve said before: what it lacks in cinematic grace, it can occasionally make up for with visceral thrills. But it must be done well, ya know? JeruZalem, for a film that deals with Hell unleashed on Earth, plays things so safe. So many moments seem to be lifted directly from Cloverfield and [REC], it’s unreal. There is some fun to be had – particularly in the lead up – but the film shows a distinct lack of imagination.
Dark Was the Night
So, Dark Was the Night… Well, yeah, it usually is. I mean, right? So, umm, nothing new to see here?
Yep. Pretty much.
This is a creature feature with a SyFy budget that tries to bring some respectability to the genre with a serious tone and a capable character actor in his prime. A logging company disturbs the sleep of an ancient predator in the woods, forcing the creature into the small town of Maiden Woods.
Dark Was the Night cannot be accused of being lazy; it really tries to be something. But it lacks a pulse and the film just kind of lies there for too long. Only at the end does the film discover any high stakes, and by then it’s too late. Kevin Durant (the best part of FX’s The Strain) gets the rare chance to carry a film and he does an admirable job with the overly familiar sheriff dealing with a fractured family.
It’s not a bad film overall, but it’s not one I’ll be quick to recommend.
Both of these films are currently streaming on Netflix.
Tomorrow’s movie: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.
Writer of horror, science fiction, and dark fantasy. Lover of books and film. Lifelong Godzilla fan. Reluctant blogger.
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