As Above/So Below Movie Review
As Above/So Below Movie Review Metadata
Perdita Weeks plays Scarlett, a sort-of Indiana Jones on a quest to uncover the Philosopher’s Stone and redeem her deceased (archeologist) father’s reputation. The Philosopher’s Stone is an ancient alchemical relic with the ability to turn any metal into gold and Scarlett believes the stone lies among the six million corpses in the catacombs beneath Paris. Helping along the way are her brilliant translator boyfriend and a team of French catacomb guides and camera operators (basically, just people there to die). Their reckless quest for wealth quickly detours into an internal struggle for redemption beyond the gates of Hell.
There are fleeting moments of suitable in-your-face shock and chill throughout this movie by John Erick Dowdle (Quarantine, Devil). But they’re all pointless afterthoughts in a film that struggles for an identity. Part Da Vinci Code, part Descent, but failing miserably at either until it implodes into uninspired nonsense and gore. Forget writing; the characters mostly discuss riddles that are way over anyone’s head. This film makes Da Vinci Code look like National Treasure. There’s a romantic tie-in that you won’t care about and people die for inexplicable reasons, while the primary leads are offered an opportunity at redemption. Overall, it’s a smart premise with little respect for execution.
Then there’s that issue with found-footage. I’ve teetered back and forth on the technique since The Blair Witch Project did it back in 1999. At least with that film, the shaky-cam element played an integral role in the narrative, whereas this film completely ignores all logic. There’s no question that found-footage can successfully bottle fear through claustrophobia and put-the-audience-in-their-shoes realism, but that footage had better survive the ordeal. Dowdle’s characters and their convenient head-cams don’t survive, so what’s the point? Horror films play within a flexible set of rules, but this is lazy filmmaking for a cheap scare.