Director: John Erick Dowdle
Starring: Perdita Weeks, Ben Feldman, Edwin Hodge
Duration: 93 minutes
Imagine the enclosing horror of feeling your soft and fleshy body succumb to the intense feeling of slowly being crushed by harsh human bones… Not really how you’d want to spend your Friday night, unless you’re an archaeologist in search of something so rare and beautiful that you’d risk your life for it. Interesting as it looks, the archaeology life ain’t for me seeing as there’s nothing more horrific than the thought of being so far beneath the surface of the Earth that not a single living being would ever know you’re there.
After walking in her Father’s steps and dedicating her whole life to finding hidden treasures, Scarlett discovers the secret to the whereabouts of her ultimate find; Flamel’s Philosopher’s Stone. With a team of frequent underground dwellers and more professional members, they dive deep into the unknown catacombs of Paris. With the grant of treasure and eternal life from the puzzle, they enter into the anonymous pits…
When I first saw this film advertised I was overly sceptical as it looked as if it was just going to be another of those mainstream movies where it’s overflowing with cheap jump scares and a plot that lacks in basically everything. The reason I finally decided to give it a go was due to my trusty film stead dismissing my presumed disappointment and urging me to give it a go. Alas, I can say that I’ve taught him well in terms of the horror genre and As Above So Below pleasantly freaked me out beyond belief. Claustrophobia, caves, the afterlife and the unknown are four aspects that will always make me revert back to watching through the viewing platform, which is the tiny gap in between my fingers.
Where better than the catacombs of Paris to set a horror film? Only other locations where the foundations of the building are essentially made from the rotting carcasses of the dead and in mass volumes. Yes, there are a few other places such as the Bone Church in Kutna Hora but they’re not all underneath the ground surface, where the sacred and demonising pit of fury could reside. As the group venture down further and further, down through bottomless wells with no means of going back, it soon becomes all too real that they’ve travelled to a place that you only go to if you’re never planning on returning. A strong sense of dread becomes apparent as you too, know that although there may be priceless treasures the deeper they go – it doesn’t seem very likely that they’ve given themselves anyway of taking them back in order to relish in their discovery.
Admittedly some characters completely rebel against what you’d ordinarily think someone would do in that kind of situation – for instance; once one person has been horrifically crushed to death due to negligence of solving an ancient and archaic booby-trap-esque puzzle, you’d think that would be the queue to turn back and celebrate the fact that you tried real hard but life is more precious than any stone. However, if that were to have happened, then I suppose there wouldn’t be a film and I wouldn’t be writing this, so I’ll leave that negative point alone for now. Plus, seeing a strong female lead that has serious balls of steel struggle through the demonic atmosphere, is quite powerful and refreshing.
As they succumb to the surreal horrors that lie beneath, it’s all too late when lead Scarlett finally figures out that by encompassing what she believes is her and her Father’s claim to fame, she’s literally opened up the gateway to Hell and led herself plus the innocent into it. From here on in is where the real fucked-up shit starts to churn, complete with eerie-cloaked beings that dwell within blind spaces. Being thousands of feet beyond civilisation, with no way of ever contacting another living soul or having anyway of escaping whilst being hounded by what is essentially a gang of Grim Reapers (clearly it’s too big of a day job for just that one guy) is something that reminds me to never explore unchartered caverns.
With my adrenaline pumping and realising that I should have never stolen so much Pick ‘n’ Mix or fucked my friend’s boyfriend, this film really made me imagine what it would be like to endure even just ten minutes in Satan’s humble abode. Now I know what could potentially lie in store for me I’ve already made enquiries into how I join a nunnery and live the life of a saint in the hopes I’ll never find out what’s below. As Above So Below really was a film that took me by surprise; leaving my Dad and I a little dumbstruck as we thought it was going to be atrocious. Looking for something for your weekday viewing? Well, you’ve just found it.
Verdict: 4 out of 5