‘As Above, So Below’: a few catacomb scares come to light
The Hollywood Reporter
‘As Above, So Below,’ with Perdita Weeks, Ben Feldman, Edwin Hodge, François Civil, Marion Lambert, Ali Marhyar. Directed by John Erick Dowdle, from a screenplay by Dowdle and Drew Dowdle. 93 minutes. Rated R for bloody violence and terror, and language throughout. Several theaters.
The Hollywood Reporter does not provide star ratings with reviews.
“Abandon all hope, ye who enter here” is the inscription uncovered by a gang of 20-something treasure hunters in the catacomb-hopping horror flick “As Above, So Below.” But the warning could easily apply to viewers checking out this rather hopeless mash-up of “The Descent” and “(Rec),” not to mention a dozen other found-footage movies that have clogged the screens over the past five years.
Hardly credible, even for a film claiming that the gates of hell lie a few hundred feet below Paris, this low-budget effort from director John Erick Dowdle and writer-producer-brother Drew Dowdle provides a few late scares after plenty of eye-rolling setup, with said scares due more to the heavy sound design than the action itself.
Gorgeous tomb raider Scarlett (Perdita Weeks) — continuing her dead father’s lifelong quest to discover the legendary, eternal-life-giving Philosopher’s Stone — uncovers a few clues that lead her to the Paris catacombs, which famously house the bones of 6 million dead.
With a team of two other Americans (Ben Feldman, Edwin Hodge) and three French spelunkers (Francois Civil, Marion Lambert, Ali Marhyar), she heads underground — the treasure hunt taking them further and further down as things inevitably get out of hand.
The characters are all so brazenly one-dimensional, and Scarlett so ridiculous (she dresses for the expedition like she’s headed to the mall), that “As Above” never passes the credibility test from the get-go. It doesn’t help that the film is loaded with purposely shaky camerawork, making it hard to see what’s what and who’s who.
At best, the filmmakers capitalize on their Paris locations, which includes a few scenes in the actual catacombs (still a popular tourist attraction).