By Craig Martin
“As Above, So Below” is the new found footage horror film from writer/director John Erick Dowdle, whose previous horror films include “Quarantine” and “Devil”. It tells the story of a group of young explorers who head into the immense labyrinth of catacombs under the streets of Paris in search of historical treasures. What they find is a deep and dark journey into their own minds as they become lost in the maze.
Now, I loved the concept of this movie when I first heard about it. The stories of people getting lost in the hundreds of miles of crypts and catacombs under European cities is something that is terrifying, mainly because it is true. This stuff does happen in real life, and I love when a movie can take that reality and add to it with the unreality only Hollywood can bring.
However, all of that said; when it comes to “As Above, So Below” I had a few issues. First of all, it’s another found footage piece. This is a genre that I’m growing very tired of, especially in movies that use it like this one does. Found footage has become just another blase medium to film middle of the row horror movies, while its true potential is not being used. What this genre should be used for, is to base the story in hyper-realistic fashion and then add sudden twists and turns that jerk the audience into the uneasy feeling that any and everything can happen. That sadly doesn’t happen in this film.
Once the storyline of explorers roaming the catacombs of Paris is set up, I was ripped, roaring and ready to go. I thought this film was going to be something very different and special. An adventure-horror film; a dark and terrifying “Uncharted” perhaps. However, after the group of explorers lead by acting newcomer Perdita Weeks and bit part actor Ben Feldman, head into the depths of Paris, things get boring and fast. Instead of jerking us into the world of the catacombs, we are slowly trudged through unnecessary exposition about the teams search for the Philosopher’s Stone and the only “scares” that come from the film are the thoughts of being lost. There was nothing to take us into the world of unrealistic Hollywood horror and it felt like we were just watching some people be lost for an hour plus. I actually spent the last third of the movie fantasizing about how much better it could have been, as opposed to watching it intently, because I had such high hopes before I saw it, and even throughout the first act, but this film falls apart throughout and crumbles like the catacombs our heroes are trapped inside.
Still, as Halloween is on its way, it could be fun to go and watch it in theaters, in the same way it’s fun to go and see Paranormal Activity 495. I wouldn’t call “As Above, So Below” awful, but I wouldn’t call it good. It’s the definition of a cookie cutter found footage piece but with a premise different enough to garner some interest.