Movie Review: “As Above So Below” – Neither Please

Written by Jesse Gelinas September 03, 2014

"As Above So Below"

I must be a stupid, stupid man to still go into horror movies today with an idiotic optimism. The truth is the American horror genre is in the toilet. And unfortunately, Spain, Korea, and France can’t pump them out fast enough to stave off the flood Hollywood provides. So we’re left with all the dreck that gets unloaded on us from the US market, and Christ is most of it painful. “As Above So Below” follows the same slow-burn found-footage formula that worked maybe twice ten years ago and has been churned out repeatedly ever since.

“As Above So Below” is told in the form of some footage documenting the archaeological adventure of Scarlet. She’s a young twenty-something with two PhDs, and a masters who speaks six languages. You know, your average gal. Our cameraman is a documentarian named Benji. Her other companions consist of an old American friend who speaks Aramaic, and a trio of French guides who specialize in getting people where they’re not allowed to go. The group delves into the catacombs beneath Paris, hoping to find secret passages leading to the Philosopher’s Stone… seriously.

“The only way out is down.”

The film is chock full of contrivances, stupidity, and lameness. But let’s talk about the elephant in the room first. The Philosopher’s Stone? As in “Harry Potter and the”? Yes, this movie chose to take its inspiration from alchemist Nicholas Flamel, the same man who inspired the plot of the first Harry Potter story. However, they stupidly decide to just pretend no one in the audience would’ve ever heard of such a thing. It was actually such a distracting factor, I laughed out loud as Scarlet was spewing out the exposition about the magical rock.

"As Above So Below"

The picture is upside down! CAN’T YOU TELL???

There are exactly two decent things about “As Above So Below”. One is the stylish poster (see below). Another is the effect near the end where the group passes through a hole in the ground and comes out the other side upside down in a flipped world. It’s pretty cool to look at. The film has no other real merits. The acting is bad on everyone’s parts. Scarlet at no point comes across as the super-scholar she is meant to be. The writing is frequently frustratingly bad. The only reason we know half the things we see or hear are scary is due to the characters telling us why it’s scary. Every single plot point is only driven forward by every character (in unison) ignoring the deadly event they just witnessed and choosing to soldier on anyway. They literally have visions, speak to the dead, are attacked by crazies in the dark, and STILL decide to crawl into a doggy-door marked “Gates to Hell.”

“Abandon all hope ye who enter here.”

By the time the movie actually decides to try and move with some speed and explain what the hell is happening, the walls come alive and we’re treated to half-completed CGI of weird mud statues stumbling around in a semi-threatening manner. They shoehorn in sudden romantic angle with a single line of dialogue and then forget it just as quickly. Scarlet has some cheesy realization about making the world as you see it with the power of the magic rock in your mind, and the entire film just falls apart and ends. Thank god!

"As Above So Below" shows us the catacombs of Paris

Everything is just so half-assed. Even the POV style is done in the laziest way possible. One line of dialogue from the original cameraman justifies it. “Oh by the way, I took these headlamps we just got from our guide and gave each of them a camera.” Bang, instant multi-camera setup. Call me a POV purist, but with found-footage I believe in one camera, one POV.

“That’s what Fluffy is protecting, the Philosopher’s Stone”

– a better character in a better film.

Don’t waste your time or money. If you want a better film with a similar setting, I suggest Australia’s “The Tunnel” from 2011. “As Above So Below” isn’t any worse a transgressor than half of the crap spilling out of Hollywood’s overstuffed mouth, but it’s just so disappointing. The marketers put together a great trailer, and I found myself (stupidly) expecting a decent scare-fest through some spooky tunnels. What I got was a dark, confusing, and poorly guided journey with some idiots I didn’t want to hang with at all.

My Rating: 2.5/10

"As Above So Below" poster

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About Jesse Gelinas

After years attempting to escape the Matrix, Jesse has accepted his fate as a writer and Senior Editor. Now that's he finished with his film degree, it gives him something to do while waiting for the machines to get careless.

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