As Above So Below Review

The Plot

A team of explorers delve into the depths of the catacombs buried under the streets of Paris to find the philosopher’s stone. But the deeper they go, the bigger mysteries they oncover…

The Good

This latest found footage flick from the makers of Quarantine and Devil starts strong enough with a well done cold open to what seems to be another familiar film to add to the ever growing sub-genre of horror. But after the strong opening comes an even stronger main plot to fill the time.

One of the most interesting aspects of As Above, So Below is most certainly the fascinating amount of history built into it’s plot. If you’re going into this looking for a run-of-the-mill found footage thrill ride you’ll most likely be distracted by a genuinely fascinating story. With hints of The Da Vinci Code, screenwriters Drew and John Erick Dowdle (who also directs) have seemingly put a lot of research into their latest claustrophobic chiller.

Perdita Weeks (The Tudors) heads the expedition crew as Scarlett, a young British student who is continuing her late father’s work in the search of the legendary philosophers stone. Presented as part mockumentary, As Above spends more time exploring the history and culture of Paris and its catacombs – the setting of most of the films action -  in a way that doesn’t dry up and actually remains curious and fascinating throughout much of the 93 minute run time. At least until it’s final act.

The Bad

It’s only fitting that a found footage film set mainly in the underground tombs of Paris would have to have some form of horror in it. And while much of the atmosphere does hint towards that pretty much from it’s cold open, it’s a shame that, in the end the film decides to focus on this part mainly to keep audiences enthralled for its final act. A job it was doing well enough beforehand without the need for so many jump scares.

To completely ditch the films main intrigue of bringing Paris’ dark history to life becomes its downfall. Just as things are leading to a great crescendo with our characters crawling on hands and knees into a region of the underground tunnels that brings the eeriness up to 11, Dowdle turns away from the intrigue to bring shocks aplenty. A rather disappointing decision.

The Ugly Truth

As Above, So Below starts off looking like another found footage horror flick to pass the time with. It then moves toward being something altogether more interesting as it explores the history of Paris’ catacombs and dabbles in urban legends. Unfortunately it ultimately retreats back to the safety of horror genre cliches. The film leaves behind most of its intrigue and interest to give the audience something more familiar. Such a great opportunity is missed to make way for the frights and jumps that we’re all accustomed to when it comes to found footage.

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