New film “As Above So Below,” hits theaters this weekend.
In a world where everything is seemingly inverted and there is always a hidden meaning to every single object, we come across the French catacombs by following this rather idiotic adventurer Scarlett in her quest to find an eternal stone with powers of alchemy and healing the sick.
Writer and director John Erick Dowdle (also known for Devil) tries his best to bring about a sense of fear, which only truly kicks in for about few minutes throughout the entire movie. Along with Drew Dowdle, who also wrote the screenplay, the Dowdles’ use of pop up sneaks provide the majority of the scares for the audience. While suspense is built accordingly and used in a timely manner, the fear is too miniscule from that alone to be considered a horror movie.
The film stars Perdita Weeks as Scarlett, Ben Feldman (Cloverfield) as Aramaic-reading George, Edwin Hodge (Red Dawn) as cameraman Benji, Francois Civil as catacomb explorer Papilon, Marion Lambert as Pap’s friend Suoxie, and Ali Marhyar as Pap’s other friend Zed. Made in a [Rec] and The Blair Witch Project documentary style, Benji follows along Scarlett as she explains that her father, who had committed suicide, had searched his entire life for the stone and she had now figured out its location in the French catacombs. She recruits the help of George who refuses to go with her in the beginning due to their previous adventure together that landed him in Turkish jail for a week. After the two uncover some clues behind a Rosetta-Stone esque tablet, they encounter Pap who is well known for his knowledge of exploring the catacombs. Promising him all the treasure they find, Pap and his two other friends agree to travel through the catacombs where no one else has traveled before- and made it out alive.
Sounds like your typical everyday exploring-turned-horrific kind of horror story. Throughout the course of the film, something happens to each one of the people, killing them off one by one, as the taunting fear of someone or something lurking in the dark rises as the team gets closer to their goal. In all honesty, the movie was very entertaining, But, in a few wrong ways. The fear was there, making it a good horror movie as opposed to others in which rely solely on the instinctive fear of flinching when something jumps in front of you. However, most of this fear lasts for at most a few minutes at a time.
The film’s creepy look and tone allows for the audience member to continue to have that fear instilled with them, but unfortunately, there are moments within the film that causes the audience to laugh, completely throwing off that good balance the Dowdles were building. Of course some were intentional, like the numerous times one of the characters says something rhetorical, causing the audience to burst in laughter. Most of the time, however, there are moments when one starts thinking if the writers were hoping to make this a parody of a horror movie.
Nonetheless, it was very entertaining. There was just the right amount of speed and plot in the film to cause the audience to stay intrigued throughout the film, just as there was enough story to make the film somewhat plausible. Although certain plot holes will have to be overlooked, the audience remains in the bubble of the film until the very end, making it an enjoyable movie, as long as you suspend your belief.