As Above So Below By J.D Hawke
“As Above, So Below” (2014)
Film review by J.D. Hawke
Film Rating: R
Director: John Eric Dowdle (Quarantine, Devil)
A team of explorers venture into the twisting, haunted catacombs below Paris, where countless people have met horrific fates, in search of a dark secret. The farther they get from the surface, the more terrifying things become.
Disclaimer: Don’t watch this movie. At least, don’t watch it without reading this review first. Because the movie, as a whole, isn’t half bad really. But if you want to truly experience this movie at its finest, then let me help you out.
As Above, So Below is a found footage type movie that deals with the occult and supernatural mysticism that envelops the Paris catacombs, said to be the most haunted place on Earth. Perdita Weeks (Penny Dreadful, Ready Player One) plays Scarlett, an alchemy scholar searching for the Philsopher’s Stone, a substance rumored to bestow eternal life.
If you have zero interest in alchemy, the occult, or Dante’s Inferno, just stop reading here and find a different movie. But if you’re the least bit intrigued, then Abandon all hope Ye who enter here.
Some background: Dante’s Inferno refers to the nine layers of hell. I’ll spare you the details, but suffice to say that each layer is more torturous than the last. As Above, So Below delves into the mythos of Dante’s Inferno, but makes one critical, fatal mistake: they never once mention that. Instead of taking viewers on a ride through the layers of Hell in search of mythological source of eternal life, viewers are greeted with dark chasms, Blair Witch Style running scenes, and the occasional character death.
If you even have a basic knowledge of the Inferno, then you know enough about alchemy to possibly enjoy this movie. As Above, So Below is a plot driven movie, but it doesn’t do enough to explain why it’s going where it goes to keep viewers fully on board.
Don’t get me wrong, the movie is anything but boring. There are a lot of great atmospheric points, and the set designers do a fantastic job of re-creating the one place on Earth no sane person would actually go.
While I did enjoy this movie, I was left wanting more in the way of character development. There’s no villain – the characters are in Hell, so Hell is the villain I guess? But the death scenes are scary, despite being either WAY too easy to predict or so out in left field you end up scratching your head trying to figure out what the hell just happened.
Overall, As Above, So Below is a decent movie that lovers of found footage films will enjoy. That being said, I’m giving it a slightly lower rating because it doesn’t do enough to draw in new viewers to its mythology. Give it a shot and let me know what you think.
(Second disclaimer: I enjoyed it enough to add it to my collection, but then again, I’ve been studying the occult for years so the movie resonated with me)
Darklady’s Horror Review Score: 5 skulls
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