Found-footage, shaky-camera horror films have come a dime a dozen these past few years. Ever since the introduction of The Blair Witch Project and the increasing popularity of the Paranormal Activity series, this sub-genre of horror films has taken over Hollywood. Some of them have been surprisingly decent, downright terrible or meh at best. As Above, So Below adopts this sub-genre’s concept and its quality falls into the aforementioned meh category.
The plot revolves around a young archaeologist by the name of Scarlet Marlowe (played by Perdita Weeks), who’s embarking on a mission to discover the all-too elusive Philosopher’s Stone. Scarlet takes up this dangerous excavation dig for two reasons – to continue the search her deceased father was once set upon and to be the 1st to unveil the otherworldly powers of the Philosopher’s Stone. Scarlet is one of the more likable characters within the film, thanks to her ability to speak several different languages, her unbridled determination and the intelligence she displays at every dangerous turn. Scarlet is being followed around by a cameraman named Benji (played by Edwin Hodge), who’s documenting her search for the elusive Philosopher’s Stone.
While in Paris, France, Scarlet reunites with a former colleague named George (played by Ben Feldman), another smart individual who’s talents for translating ancient dialects comes in great handy for Scarlet’s journey. Once all three characters group up with some shady but trustworthy tunnel diggers, everyone enters the deep catacombs beneath Paris, France to locate the Philosopher’s Stone and even more unearthed treasure. The buildup to the big tunnel dig is full of some entertaining diversions here and there, but you’ll be ready to start getting creeped out as the film chugs along.
Of course, this seemingly cut-and-dry treasure dig goes horribly wrong. The horrors of the dark and amazingly creepy tunnels beneath “The City of Lights” are confronted at several twists and turns. It’s interesting to see how each character deals with their deepest fears and nightmare scenarios as they crawl deeper underground. As far as horror move scares go, this film has a good amount of them. The claustrophobic feeling that comes with venturing through dark caverns and tunnel passage ways comes through perfectly. The eerie scenes that come with each character confronting their backstory in the real (such as the drowning of George’s brother) provide some fun and intense sequences.
As Above, So Below comes with its fair share of cheap scares here and there, which are fun to jump at for a hot second. The move’s overall decent quality is derived from its moments of mental scares and shocking deaths that are built up perfectly. By the end of this underground journey, you’ll be curios to see how much worse things could possibly get. You’ll grow to despise the line “We gotta keep moving” since you know this isn’t such a bright idea by such seemingly intelligent characters. But you’ll love to see what new horrors they’ll each come up against.
The final stretch of this film is a disappointing, though. It falls flat and it will certainly leave you unfulfilled after having to watch such harrowing footage. Everything before that ending is fun to follow, but the finish is hard to be pleased by. Besides the great mind-breaking scare moments and brutal deaths, there’s not much more to this film to grab onto. It’s great for a Friday night date movie, but you’ll quickly forget about it and never offer it a repeat viewing once it’s done. It’s quick and far from painless (in a good way), but it’s easily digestible and forgettable.
As far as the whole “shaky cam” footage horror genre is concerned, As Above, So Below is one of the better ones out there. It’s mix of quick jump scares and psychological terror provides a few entertaining thrills here and there, but its flat ending and lack of more meaty content to grab onto bring this film down a bit.
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