As Above, So Below
As Above, So Below
has found a
particularly intriguing setting for it’s shaky-cam, found footage
Blair Witch Project-worshipping storyline and structure, but there is
not all that much else that really stands out about the film.
Underneath the city of Paris are a maze-like series of historical catacombs,
sewers, caves and mass graves that have long been a morbidly popular tourist
According to Wikipedia (and who would know better than Wikipedia?):
"The Catacombs of Paris or Catacombes de Paris are underground
ossuaries in Paris, France. Located south of the former city gate (the "Barrière
d’Enfer" at today’s Place Denfert-Rochereau), the ossuaries hold
the remains of about six million people and fill a renovated section of
caverns and tunnels that are the remains of historical stone mines. Opened
in the late 18th century, the underground cemetery became a tourist
attraction on a small scale from the early 19th century, and has been open
to the public on a regular basis from 1874."
Yes, that sounds like an appropriately creepy place to film a horror movie.
In fact, it seems like it would be so creepy that it deserves a better film
than this one.
As Above, So Below
the only recent horror film about being lost in the Paris catacombs – there
was a 2007 film called Catacombs starring Alecia Moore, a.k.a. pop
star Pink. For the record, that was not a good film, either, plus the fact
that it was not even filmed in the Paris catacombs, despite supposedly being
set there. Catacombs was mostly filmed in Bulgaria.
As Above, So Below,
other hand, was filmed in the actual Paris catacombs. This is both
fascinating (the settings are stunning and atmospheric) and also
somewhat frustrating (the dark, shakey-cam filming often does not allow you
to appreciate the austere historic majesty of the place).
As usual, with this kind of film, the characters have little or no real
depth, they are just superficial types needed to hang the story upon. The
story – or what story there is – has a perky British modern archeologist
named Scarlett (Perdita Weeks) coming to believe that she has figured out
how to find a magical historic artifact called "The Philosopher’s Stone"
which had obsessed her father until he committed suicide.
She puts together a crew to explore the catacombs: her stoic director Benji
(Edwin Hodge), three French explorers (François Civil, Marion Lambert and
Ali Marhyar) and an old American friend named George (Ben Feldman of Drop
Dead Diva and the upcoming series A to Z). Ben is a translator
and keeps insisting that he is not going to go on the search the catacombs –
his brother drowned in a cave accident when he was a kid – but Scarlett
keeps ignoring his protestations and pressuring him to come.
Once they get into the catacombs, they quickly get lost and start seeing
dead people from their pasts lingering around. As they descend deeper and
deeper, they find themselves in more danger.
There are no real surprises in As Above, So Below, other than the
fact that one character who would seem like an obvious stereotypical early
horror film victim actually survives the whole ordeal.
The story often makes little sense. Why was Scarlett able to heal a
severely injured member of her crew with the magic stone when it is later
revealed that she had the wrong one? Who was that coven of Satanist women
that were briefly exposed and then never mentioned again? And why was one
of them topless? Why do the catacombs have the power to bring people and
things from the past back to life so that everyone can see them? And what
is the deal with the whole mirror image world?
Honestly, though, the film would have been bearable if not for the tired
usage of shakey cam. It’s often hard to figure out what is going on during
As Above, So Below, simply because of the murky and choppy visuals.
Then eventually it hits you – you don’t really care all that much what is
going on. At that point, As Above, So Below has lost you.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2014 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: August