We’ve asked our listeners/Twitter followers what films they want us to review. As you can see above, MarisaAR suggested As Above, So Below (2014). We were happy to oblige; but please know, some spoilers are ahead.
We’ve seen found footage horror films before. Some, like Blair Witch, have worked out okay. Others, not so much. As Above, So Below falls into the former category. We meet Scarlett (Perdita Weeks) on a bus traveling through Iran illegally looking for the Philosopher’s Stone. Following her father’s notes, her obsession has led her here and her regard for life (including her own) is clear: everyone is expendable.
As we follow her to Paris, we see Scarlett pull her fearful best friend, George (Ben Feldman), into her quest. The trail leads them to the Paris Catacombs. Not the tourist side, oh no. They go to the treacherous side where, without a guide to maneuver their way through the ossuary, seals their fate.
There are many other aspects to the film that makes this a fun watch. First, this was actually shot in the Paris Catacombs. The entryway, the cramped feeling, the water – all real. In fact, the crew carried a piano into the vicinity to shoot a specific sequence. It works and it adds a layer of fear and discomfort for those who hate small spaces.
Secondly, once you understand that the film pulls from Dante’s Inferno, it takes on deeper meanings. The death sequences, the traps, the world from one side being a mirror image of the other – it’s brilliantly done.
That being said, there are some flaws that leave the story somewhat flat. We don’t want to give the whole story away so suffice it to say that we would have liked more development. If nothing else, less characters and deeper insights. As this felt like a psychological thriller/horror, a few more character and plot developments would have been great additions.
One final nitpicky thing: the headlamps were always pointed at the ceiling. While we’re sure this was for filming, it was rather distracting. If this had been a true found footage item, they would be aimed straight ahead and on the highest settings. In both cases, they weren’t. Again, nitpicky, but it was something that kept running through Kimberly’s mind throughout.
Overall, it was a fun watch that left us with more questions than answers. The one thing we can say for sure, this movie led Kimberly down a rabbit hole as she spent hours online looking and reading about the Paris catacombs and the stories of people who go there. This film was eerily spot on.