BARE BONES: BLOOD PUNCH and JERUZALEM

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BLOOD PUNCH (2013)

Odd little movie has nerdy but brainy Milton (Deathgasm’s Milo Cawthorne) sent off to rehab after getting caught cooking meth. There he meets the seductive Skyler (Olivia Tennent), who says she will break him out if he cooks meth, for just one day, for her and her drug dealer boyfriend Russell (Ari Boyland). Things don’t go as planned, as the cabin they are in lies on ancient Indian ground and now they are reliving the same day in a loop, betrayals, murder and all. Having fallen for each other, Skyler and Milton have to kill Russell over and over again, as they try to find a way escape the loop to be together…unknown to them, there is a deadly catch to gaining their freedom.

As yet another variation of Groundhog Day, it took a while for me to warm up to this flick. As the story moved on, the characters started to grow on me, especially Tennent’s sassy Skylar. Eddie Guzelian’s script started to show a little life once we start delving into the actual causes of the loop and the filmmakers did have fun with the continual deaths of the psychotic and abusive Russell. Madellaine Paxson directs with a bit of a Tarantino wannabe style and isn’t totally successful in getting past the done-to-death premise of reliving a day over and over. There is some cleverness here and there and the film actually got more involving as it went along, though never makes a strong enough impression. It passed the time, but was nothing memorable, though I would like to see New Zealand actress Olivia Tennant in more roles (She actually did appear as a child in The Two Towers as little Freda and was on the 2009 Power Rangers R.P.M.). Also stars The Purge’s Adelaide Kane as a sexy hench-woman.

EXTRA TRIVIA: Co-stars Cawthorne and Tennent are married in real-life having met on the set of Power Rangers R.P.M.!

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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JERUZALEM (2015)

Flick has two pretty friends, Sarah (Danielle Jadelyn) and Rachel (Yael Grobglas), going on vacation to Tel Aviv and getting convinced to go to Jerusalem instead by handsome adventurer, Kevin (Yon Tumarkin). Sarah is documenting the trip with a pair of camera glasses and once in Jerusalem strange things start to occur, such as people going mad in startling numbers and soon winged creatures begin to appear about the city. All the religious leaders seem to feel an apocalyptic event from out of scripture is occuring and Jerusalem is ground zero with the young vacationers trapped inside.

Written and directed by Yoav and Doron Paz, apocalyptic found footage flick starts out well. They come up with a clever reason to eliminate the ‘why are they still filming’ dilemma by having Sarah wearing glasses that have camera’s in them, so there is no camera to drop when running for your life. It starts out slowly with the girls sightseeing and having romantic entanglements with Kevin and handsome local man, Omar (Tom Graziani), then begins to get spooky as things start to get all biblical. There are some really creepy moments as we glimpse the insane transformed into winged demons and giants walking the streets of the Holy City, while our young characters try to find a way out. It’s only in the last act when they get into the catacombs under the city that the film looses momentum as the characters wander around aimlessly and start to dwindle in number. It should have been the most frightening part but looses steam instead. Then there is the final scene which was a bit silly and it ends. The first two thirds held attention with likable characters and some really spooky stuff, especially if you are familiar with end times mythology in the various cultures. It’s in the last act the film stumbles in the dark along with it’s characters in the tunnels that weakens what started out as one of the better recent found footage horrors. Worth a look for some great Israeli locations and that The Paz Brothers did deliver some effective spookiness in the strong middle third.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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