Saturday, September 13, 2014

As Above, So Below - Review

An adventure-seeking scholar, her documentarian, her former flame/expert linguist, and a trio of French ne'er-do-wells venture into the inner depths of the Paris Catacombs in order to uncover, of all things buried amid the skulls and bones, the Philosopher's Stone. Unfortunately, they don't take that left at Albuquerque and eventually find themselves at the gates of Hell. I was genuinely surprised with the aspirations of this film, especially since it is one of the few, if not only, found footage horror movies to tap into "real-life" historical elements, i.e. not a generic ghost story, before walking us through the usual supernatural theatrics. It begins by informing the viewer of the legend of Nicolas Flamel and his supposed theories on alchemy, then jumps to having the group run around Paris and pulling off NATIONAL TREASURE-like capers and puzzle-solving. Once they enter the tight underground corridors, however, the rollicking picture starts to fall apart at the seams. There are some more intriguing riddles that need to be stumped in order for the pack to continue onward and/or survive their current predicament but they often make way for the poor, hamfisted spooks. I shouldn't actually use that word because AS ABOVE, SO BELOW is never scary, nor frightening at the slightest. The claustrophobia could have been a good working agent for terror but the viewer will quickly realize that the cramp passageways help make the movie appear more linear and straightforward than it already is. Adding to the sheer frustration are the shoddy camerawork, which often cuts out or shakes more than a Chihuahua during a thunderstorm, and the dumb creative decision to have every character possess a horrible backstory. This should have been a film that I ruthlessly trash, a clear contender for the worst of the year list, but I honestly walked away from it annoyed yet a bit satisfied. Maybe it was the two times when the main camera is used as a weapon against mummies, or the laughable dummy fall, or the idea of a man having the occupation of breaking-and-entering church bell repairman that made me give it a slap on the wrist.


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