Director: John Erick Dowdle
Starring: Perdita Weeks, Ben Feldman, Edwin Hodge, Francois Civil, Marion Lambert, Ali Marhyar, Cosme Castro
Rated: R (bloody violence/terror, and language throughout)
When a team of explorers ventures into the catacombs that lie beneath the streets of Paris, they uncover the dark secret that lies within this city of the dead.
As Above, So Below
By Matt Greene
How do you critique a film when its main purpose succeeds but, in every other way, it fails? As a force of visceral terror, AA,SB is spine-chilling fun; as a piece of storytelling, it’s an eye-rolling drag. It’s overly convoluted in its lore and overly simple in its characterization. There are too many characters, and every back story is senseless at best and annoying at worst. Like a well-executed haunted house, at times it’s truly creepy…but haunted houses don’t have to have a point. Stories do. This one doesn’t.
AA,SB follows a tenacious Indiana-Jones-esque girl with daddy issues, leading a search for the philosopher’s stone in the catacombs under Paris, France. Think Goonies if they grew up, lost their personality and got in over their heads. It’s full of the basic horror foreshadowing (ominous signs, uncouth jokes) and telling dialogue, making it hard to be surprised or really care when the deaths begin to pile up.
Most frustrating is that AA,SB is yet another movie hurt by the gimmick of found footage. I get that they wanted to make it seem more “real” to enhance the scares, but a simple handheld camera would’ve done the trick. As is, it’s incomprehensibly shaky, unintentionally goofy, and lazily edited (in the club scene, notice how the music never stops when the shots cut).
Again, this movie IS scary, especially once you push past the surprisingly long build up to the catacombs. There‘s some great cultish imagery and plenty of jumps to effectively make you avert your gaze. Outside of these too few classic horror moments, pervasive dumbness reigns supreme.
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
As Above, So Below
By Cole Schneider
I’m convinced that “As Above, So Below” was made as Harry Potter fan fiction by someone who thinks that “National Treasure” and “Final Destination” are the two best films ever made. Then, inexplicably, it was decided that this nightmare of an idea was to be carried out with a handheld camera to add an extra layer of incoherent nonsense.
We are invited in as an extra member of a bunch of one-dimensional characters seeking something (Adventure? Knowledge?) in the catacombs underneath Paris. Or rather in some twisted Hell underneath Paris. It doesn’t make sense, which is okay except that they keep pulling us back in to these ridiculous religious answers that have no common ground with any prior ridiculous religious answers. Constantly mixing mythologies, eventually the fantasy cocktail loses all potency and merely tastes like tap water. Thus, for a film built on a series of scares, it is surprisingly tepid.
Is it supposed to be a remake of an old Hans Christian Andersen fable? Is it supposed to be a haunting portrayal of the fear of self, seeing the hellish side of our own humanity juxtaposed to our daily interference with life? In the end, the film pretends to be about forgiving oneself and ascending beyond one’s own past. Really, though, it’s nothing more than a vehicle for scares, which again is excusable if it owns up to its own pretense. With its means so confounding, AASB’s end is lost well before it can be justified. So really, it’s a film devoid of identity.
Rating: 1 out of 5 stars