As Above, So Below
Directed By: John Erick Dowdle, Written By: Drew Dowdle, Starring Perdita Weeks, Ben Feldman, Edwin Hodge, Universal Pictures
WARNING: This review contains spoilers!
I am not a huge fan of found footage films. They are often predictable and boring. I had very low expectations for As Above, So Below. But I was pleasantly surprised. As Above, So Below offers the unique story of a very brave Alchemy student Scarlett, (Perdita Weeks) who is out to offer the world a discovery that will change the course of history; proving that the urban legend of Nicolas Flamel creating the Philosopher’s Stone is real. Flamel’s tombstone offers clues on the whereabouts of the stone’s location; hidden in a secret area within the Catacombs under Paris. This is an adventure worth taking! That is, until the journey reveals otherwise.
Scarlett gathers a crew. Her cameraman Benji (Edwin Hodge), a friend whom she shared some fun times with, Translator George (Ben Feldman) and a team of locals to navigate the “off limits” areas of the catacombs. Take note to the Siouxsie And The Banshee reference when you hear it in the movie. No relevance to the movie, just a reference.
I would not consider myself claustrophobic but, if presented with some of the situations in the movie, there would be cause for hyperventilation, dread and panic. There is one uncomfortable scene where I found that I had to concentrate on my own breathing and I was in an open wide theater! The footage inside the catacombs was fantastic! Creepy to those who find walls made of human skulls and tunnels filled with femur bones scary.
A few of the crew begin seeing objects and apparitions from tragedies in their pasts. The group actually finds what they were looking for; treasure and the Philosopher’s Stone… or did they? They are forced deeper into the catacombs upon discovering the Emerald Tablet which reads: “That which is above is the same as that which is below”. The only way up is down.
Now, the group’s previous actions are being mirrored as they try to reach the surface. That is, until they arrive at tunnel which has the inscription: “Abandon hope all ye who enter here”. Which legend has it, is the entrance to Hell. Of course there is no way back as the way the group came has disappeared. The characters begin to face tragedies of their pasts and the moral of the story is revealed.
As a horror movie fanatic, I found that the elements of the film were unsettling. Going deeper and deeper underground and ultimately finding this vision of Hell is what made the movie worthy. I was grateful there was not an abundance of unnecessary gore. There’s no lack of hellish sound effects either.
It made feel like I was in a nightmare. Not a nightmare formed of monsters, demons or ghosts… but the places our mind goes when when we are in a dark dream and our fears are manifested as quick as we think of them. Therefore, I left the theater satisfied and thrilled. There is still hope for modern horror films.
Check out the As Above, So Below trailer: