Monday, 1 September 2014

As above, So Below

Scarlet Marlowe (The Tudors' Perdita Weeks) is a young archaeologist with ambitious plans to find Nicholas Flamel's legendary Philosopher's Stone. Her work in Iran leads her to the catacombs of Paris of which Scarlet believes to be the location of the Philosopher's Stone. She recruits a cameraman, Benji (Edwin Hodge), her old flame George (Mad Men's Ben Feldman) and some Parisian guides and goes deep into the catacombs. Inside the catacombs, however, the small group of explorers encounter horrors from their past.

The creepy catacombs of Paris, with its remains of six million people, make for an ideal setting for a horror film because of its narrow and twisty tunnels. The narrow tunnels create a strong feeling of claustrophobia making the film a difficult watch for anyone made uncomfortable by confined spaces. The Dowdle brothers, who have already proved to be quite effective at replicating claustrophobic situations, owe a great debt to Neil Marshall's horror thriller The Descent. As Above, So Below does not come close to matching the sheer quality of Marshall's horror film but director John Erik Dowdle brilliantly uses the setting to create a sense of dread as the viewer fears the horrors which could be lurking just round the next sharp turn.

As Above, So Below is not only inspired by The Descent but also by The Blair Witch Project, the film which essentially kicked off this handheld/found footage craze that has become a big part of the horror genre. In this case the majority of the cameras are headsets, this results in the film becoming visually incomprehensible during the most intense moments. Director John Erick Dowdle does an effective job at sustaining tension, but as the film reaches its conclusion it becomes more and more ludicrous as it begins to rely on sudden loud bangs to create scares rather than generate a sense of dread. Yet, despite this As Above, So Below remains great fun if one is willing to suspend their disbelief.


1 comment:

  1. Interesting. My theater just got this, and it's rotten on Rotten Tomatoes, yet all of the blogger reviews I've read seem to think it's pretty decent. I'm still trying to decide if I should check this one out or not. Great review!