REVIEW — “As Above, So Below”
As Above, So Below is about a University professor, Scarlett (Perdita Weeks), and her quest to complete her late father’s search for the Philosopher’s Stone. She is accompanied by Benji (Edwin Hodge) to document her journey and her findings. When she reaches the edge of her knowledge, she enlists the help of her former colleague, George (Ben Feldman). Their joint research (and subsequent ancient artifact VANDALISM) directs them to a secret tunnel in the Catacombs of Paris. Scarlett coaxes three experienced spelunkers into being their guide with the promise of a share of the legendary treasure resting at their destination. However, as the group descends deeper and deeper into the mass grave, they realize they might be lucky to simply make it out with their lives.
Let’s just say that I’m glad that I had the pleasure of experiencing the Catacombs of Paris long before I witnessed As Above, So Below, because the chances of me going back now are pretty slim. Beneath the vibrant city are miles of tunnels filled with the neatly stacked bones of 6 million people. If that’s not the perfect place for a scary movie, I don’t know what is. Director John Erick Dowdle were able to receive special permission from the Parisian government and it pays off. The scenes in the Catacombs are dark, cramped and unnerving. If Dowdle ended up not being able to shoot on location, the movie would not have been half as good.
The story is intriguing but fairly skeletal. Spooky figures are seen and vanish with no satisfactory reasoning or later explanation. The movie spends a significant time building up to an almost but not quite acceptable climax, only to be quickly wrapped up in an interesting but too sudden ending. Even the characters could use some fleshing out. However, despite their two dimensional nature, these characters don’t fall into ridiculous clichés of making annoyingly stupid decisions to move the story along. The cast does a great job with what they’re given. Ok, maybe I just have a tiny crush on Ben Feldman, so sue me!
As Above, So Below will definitely make you jump but it won’t get inside your head. The film resorts to typical loud noises and surprises that, I’ll admit, made me scream on more than one occasion. The lack of a score throughout the movie also made for some interestingly crafted scenes of tension and claustrophobia. The entire film is shot using first person footage compiled from cameras attached to their headlamps, thus making the movie extremely disorienting at times. If these shaky cam movies make you woozy, then definitely sit this one out. As above, So Below is a spooky fun time at the movies and a good primer for those who want to get a jump start on fall festivities (seriously, I know you guys are out there. It’s still technically summertime and there’s already Holloween candy at the grocery store, people).