As Above, So Below
Updated: Jul 19, 2021
The 282nd review!
Facebook has informed me as of Halloween it is doing away with the “Notes” section on the site. It kind of bums me out because it’s how I’ve been doing these reviews from the beginning. Oh well... After an... interesting show last night, I laid down to watch...
As Above, So Below (2014) HBO Max
I remember being intrigued by this movie after seeing the trailers. But from the word of mouth I got, it seemed like I should skip it. Fast forward to 2020 and after some recommendations, the movie being raved about a lot on Reddit and struggling to pick a movie, I decided to give it a shot.
We begin with a young woman in Iran on a treasure hunt. After a very close call she manages to make a discovery leading her one step closer to finding “The Philosopher’s Stone,” which I kept thinking was from a Harry Potter book. Anyways, after coaxing a friend to come along, now in Paris, they realize the stone is deep in the catacombs beneath the French capitol. She enlists the help of... I don’t know how to describe them... friends, I guess, to take her down to the catacombs, find a secret entrance and get the treasure. It’s just when down there, things take a very bad turn.
I think I should add a disclaimer to all the movies I do to say if they’re found footage or not. This one is, and honestly, I don’t think it needed to be. I get they were trying to give off a claustrophobic atmosphere, but they were actually filming inside the catacombs, we know it’s claustrophobic as hell, the gimmick doesn’t need to be there. Some movies can use the gimmick to its advantage, Grave Encounters is one, this one, I think actually hurt the movie. Anytime there’s a tense or scary moment you don’t have to time to react. For one, a lot of the movie it looks like someone just threw a camera into a dryer and filmed it. The character is rightfully panicking so even when there’s something to see you only get the slightest glimpse of it.
It’s a real shame because this movie is a lot deeper (see what I did there?) than most horror movies you’ll see. I don’t really like giving spoilers, but I think if I would have gotten this information before I saw the movie I would have enjoyed it more. I don’t know if it’s because I’m dense or this movie didn’t do the greatest job explaining, but their trip through the catacombs mirrors that of Dante’s from The Inferno. I had read the book years ago and outside of an inscription, there’s no spoken references to pick up on. Each room they go in has to do with Dante’s writings in some way. It made me appreciate what I just saw a whole lot more.
To its credit, the movie has some good scares. Some of the things they see, well for the half second they see it, are very disturbing. Then, when you realize what layer of Hell they’re in, you understand what that thing was, it’s pretty chilling the more you think about it. What’s also cool is the catacomb is a character too. It’s taking them on this journey, changing its layout, forcing them to go where it wants them to go, deeper and deeper underground. When the movie stops to take a breath and the people are working out the deep shit they’re in is when the movie shines.
I already mentioned the camera work for a flaw, but it bears repeating. This movie at parts is really scary, but you can’t stay scared for long simply because by the time you process what happened, or that shadow may have moved, the camera is in tornado-mode and you can’t see a thing. This was the first movie ever given permission by France to film down there, so maybe the found footage was what convinced the government because it’d be easier to shoot than getting a whole crew down there. But still, I think this could have been a better movie without it.
Now to the ending, I really don’t know how I feel about it. I loved how the characters got there, it was unique and fun. And that final hurdle before the end was also a really nice touch. But that final note was just... weird. The best way for me to describe it would be the scene from Dumb and Dumber when Jim Carrey walks out of the 7-11 and sees the people drinking Big Gulps and says, “Big Gulps, huh... (awkward silence) Well, see ya!”
I enjoyed the group, but outside of George and the leader of the “friends”, I didn’t feel invested in them all that much. Still, it was fun seeing them piecing everything together and it’s a thrilling ride to watch them travel through the catacombs, but man is that camera shaky. I liked it a whole more than The Descent though.
7 Dr. Chainsaws!
As Above, So Below
2014 R 1h 33m Supernatural Horror Movies
A beautiful tomb raider and her crew hunt for treasure in the catacombs of Paris and find themselves in a hellish underworld. Starring:Perdita Weeks, Ben Feldman, Edwin Hodge