Directed by John Erick Dowdle
As Above/So Below is a lot of fun for fans of hidden treasure movies like The Mummy, the beginning of The Exorcist 2: The Heretic, The Awakening, and even The Da Vinci Code. What’s more, there’s plenty of horror and suspense. It’s well-acted, the characters are nicely drawn, and the setting – this the first ever production to receive permission to film in the off-limits sections of the Paris Catacombs – is stunning.
Unfortunately, it’s yet another found-footage film. And it’s shakier than most. I do dearly wish the filmmaking team of John Erick Dowdle and Drew Dowdle had gone with a more traditional cinematic approach (a la Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom or The Descent). But aside from that, I have no complaints… and at least the brothers are well-versed in the technique, having used it in Quarantine to good effect. While I wasn’t wild about the cinematography, I thought the sharp and intense sound design was tops.
Our swashbuckling, treasure-hunting, intrepid heroine is Scarlett Marlowe (Weeks), an archeologist who stumbles onto what could be the legendary find of the century: the famed Flamel’s Philosopher’s Stone. This pursuit has driven her own father to madness and suicide, but our gal is undeterred. She gathers up a rag-tag team of talents and heads into the deepest, darkest – and of course, uncharted – cave. Her main men are ex-boyfriend George (Feldman) and buddy Benji (Hodge). George is a translator of ancient script, while Benji is a camera-toting documentarian. A rogue team of underground explorers led by Papillon (Civil) is hired to help navigate the Catacombs, but none of them are prepared for what they find there.
While I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by how fun – and spooky – As Above/So Below turned out to be, it is a tad uneven. There are a few moments in which the mystery and peril clash with a supernatural and Satanic horror element. But that’s a negligible nitpick.
If you love archeological adventure, mystery, and full-on horror, As Above/So Below is well worth a look (even if it is a shaky one).
7 out of 5