When looking for an intriguing and horrifyingly gruesome spine-chiller, “As Above, So Below” will surely not disappoint. This “found-footage” film tells the tale of a team of young explorers who venture into the forbidden ancient catacombs of Paris, France to find the legendary philosopher’s stone, which is said to possess enchanting powers. Scarlett Marlowe (Perdita Weeks) the vivacious adventure-seeking, alchemist leader of the group along with her partner, George (Ben Feldman), and videographer Benji (Edwin Hodge), team up with Papillon (François Civil), Souxie (Marion Lambert) and Zed (Ali Marhyar), adventurers from Paris who have experience exploring the Catacombs, in order to find the stone. After entering the sacred grounds, turning back was not an option and the group was forced to face whatever lay within.
After delving into the pitch-black tunnels of the Catacombs, Marlowe and her crew experience a string of horrifying events, with each one creating a personal hell for every member of the group throughout the remainder of the movie. They are all forced to face the darkest times of their past filled with guilt and regret as they travel deeper into the Catacombs.
The use of found-footage, (the camera angles that make the film look as though it were actually shot by the characters in the movie) is often over-used in the horror movie genre. However, this style worked well for this movie because of its unique story line. Each character had a video camera strapped to their headlamps and the videographer also had a hand-held video camera, which allowed for many unusual and intriguing shots. This adds a personal touch and allows viewers to feel as though they are actually in the movie.
The sound work effectively increased the fear levels and made the audience feel as though they were just as trapped as the explorers in the movie. Whether it be the creaking of the tunnels about to collapse, the distant chanting of a cult practicing their rituals in another part of the Catacombs or the bizarre sounds exuding from the gates of Hell, sound was used skillfully to make the audience even more terrified.
The plot and location is also a large part of what makes “As Above, So Below” so much more fascinating to watch than other found-footage films. Director, John Erick Dowdle, along with his brother, co-director Drew Dowdle, actually filmed the majority of the movie on-location in the catacombs of Paris, which are normally closed off to the public. Unlike other ‘found-footage films, such as Paranormal Activity, which is traditionally filmed in a house that is haunted, the Catacombs of As Above, So Below give off a claustrophobic vibe, which adds a whole new level of suspense.
The difference between this movie and others in the horror genre is the thrilling adventure plot that one would normally see in an Indiana Jones movie. The audience is kept on the edge of their seats as the characters navigate on their quest through the haunted tunnels of the underground grave that holds over 6 million skeletons, which are the least of the terrifying things in there. It’s hard to tell what will pop out next around each corner and suspense is felt throughout the entire film.
This movie is unique as it features a female lead, which is uncommon with movies of this genre. Weeks portrays a confident and fearless Scarlett Marlowe who is not afraid to look death in the face. It was refreshing to see a woman as the leader instead of being portrayed as a damsel in distress. This makes the movie more appealing to women as well since it is more relatable and empowering.
Although some may not be huge fans of scary movies, “As Above, So Below” is fascinating because of its uniqueness. Moviegoers will love how the architectural history of the Catacombs of Paris was entwined with the terror and storyline of the movie. There was a good balance between plot and horror, which made it more intriguing to watch. This movie is perfect for anyone who is in the mood for a good scare.