As Above, So Below Review

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By Justin Jasso (@jjasso007)



It is safe to say that our world is vast. And despite so many archeological discoveries, there are still numerous discoveries we have yet to find. Is there a real Noah’s Ark out there? Where is the tomb of Cleopatra and her lover, Mark Antony? Was there ever really a city of El Dorado steeped in gold? Or Solomon’s Temple? Then there are other areas we do know about but do not have the capabilities of fully exploring. I’m specifically speaking of the Catacombs of Paris which are located in southern France and encompass 200 miles of underground tunnels, quarries, and caves containing the remains of over six million people. With minimal entrances, a full survey of the 200 miles is almost impossible. But what mysteries lie buried within? The latest film by John Erick Dowdle, As Above, So Below, takes us in to find out.

Scarlet Marlowe (Perdita Weeks) is an archaeologist by trade, holding two PhDs and a Masters in chemistry. Her father was also an archaeologist who believed that the mythical Philosopher’s Stone actually did exist, created by the alchemist Nicolas Flamel. With the help of her friend, George (Ben Feldmen), she discovers that Flamel hid the stone within the catacombs. The only object blocking her retrieving the stone is that she needs a guide to get there. She enlists the help of a French native, Papillon (Francois Civil), known for his knowledge of the catacombs. Once the crew to find the stone is gathered, they make their way into the catacombs. But what else lurks below the streets of Paris and will Scarlet find the stone or will she lose her way and possibly her life?

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As Above, So Below is a film in the “found footage” style genre, so we know how the formula will play out. People will be running around with cameras on them, some motion sickness may be experienced by some audience members, and unexpected things will pop in front of those cameras from time to time causing the person sitting next to you to scream. So what makes this film different from the others? For starters, this uses a real location familiar to people, and one in which anyone can visit. That propels the realism to a new height. And As Above, So Below is as much a found footage thriller as it is a trip into the psyche of the human mind. When placed in unfamiliar situations in locations where we can’t be sure what we saw, our minds have a tendency to fabricate what may not actually be there. Here we find the catacombs prey on our biggest fears, on the things we struggle to come to grips with deep within our hearts, and brings those to the surface. Then it becomes a battle of determining what is real and what is made up, especially when everything can hurt you in the end.

The acting is what you may expect from a found footage genre film. We get some background into the main character Scarlet, opening with a past event that segues to the present day. Perdita Weeks brings out a tough, determined adventurer academic, who is pushed to prove that her father’s theories were correct. She has a good grasp on controlling her fears and displays the leadership qualities needed for this type of a role. Ben Feldmen’s portrayal of George brings a man continually dealing an inner fight between what happened in his past and the actions he took. This incident is exacerbated within the catacombs, making the character a little one note. Francois Civil portrays is a confident guide, until things start going wrong, then we see his inner struggle when one loses control of a situation they have always had a firm grasp on. The other characters in the group play the roles that are needed, not delivering anything you will walk out of the theater really discussing.

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As Above, So Below is more of a typical found footage film, but it has an intriguing story and takes us through an interesting location with the Catacombs of Paris. There are a couple moments that make little sense, making you question how that happened or what it meant, and the finale is also a letdown with a “that’s it?!” moment, but this is also a psychological film so maybe that was the point somehow? It also doesn’t necessarily have the jumps and scares that one has come to expect from this type of film, so some may be disappointed in that sense. But it is eerie enough and has enough moments where you know you saw something in the background but can’t really make out what it was, but know it’ll probably reappear to scare you, even though you don’t want it to (though deep down, you do). As Above, So Below isn’t going to break any box office records, nor will it deliver anything new to the genre, but at least it’s an interesting journey through the catacombs of Paris.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars


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