“As Above So Below” Review

From the creators of Quarantine, a remake of the Spanish horror film [Rec], comes a new found footage genre movie taking place in the catacombs of Paris. Led by an alchemy scholar named Scarlett (Perdita Weeks), a group of explorers go underground in attempt to find the Flamel Stone. Eventually getting trapped, they realize they must continue to go further down in order to get out. Along the way, they encounter several super spooky items and people, like a piano, a ringing phone, and a long-lost friend.

Nothing in this movie makes sense. There are blatant continuity errors, like cameras that magically hold themselves in the air, characters that appear out of nowhere, and the assumption that whipping a camera around the general area of the secret markings will provide readable content. All of the philosophical and scientific explanation is mumbo-jumbo intended to seem intimidating and meaningful while not actually saying anything and encouraging the viewer to not really pay all that much attention. And the character motivations are practically nonexistent, existing purely to move the plot from point A to point B. Initially, this all is pretty infuriating, as it treats the audience as if they are stupid and appears as though the filmmakers didn’t even try. However, after enough exposure, it all becomes funny. The nonsensical logic eventually borders on self-parody, and the film becomes comedic in a “this is stupid and ridiculous” sort of way.

If you’re scared by bad character development, this movie is for you. All of the roles are blatant caricatures, and any attempt to delve deeper into their personalities simply establishes them further as cartoons. The main character, Scarlett, is a hardcore academic who has “2 PhDs, can speak 4 languages along with 2 dead ones, and is a black belt in the martial art of Krav Maga.” She’s attempting to find the Flamel Stone because her father went mad trying to find it. Benji, her cameraman, exists to hold the camera and make mistakes that push the plot forward. And they even have a French Navigator, Papillion, whose job it is to act confused and scared in a French accent.

For the first hour or so of the film, nothing particularly scary happens. The movie aims to create a creepy and mysterious tone that will pay off in the climax. Unfortunately, all of the aforementioned stupidity takes you out of the film, and the moments that are supposed to be scary come off as weird and dumb. There is no tension as to whether the characters will live or die, so whenever they come under attack, the absurdity is more prevalent than the horror. The final half hour is fast-paced and insane though, so the film is entertaining, even if not in the way that is intended.

The best thing that I can say about As Above, So Below is that it doesn’t overstay its welcome. Not that it was truly welcome in the first place, but the pacing doesn’t drag long enough for the film to be boring. It’s a complete mess throughout, but it has the sense to just get in and get out. The lunacy of the film is still exhausting and tedious, but it never gets too painful. If you still want to see the film, see it with friends, that way you’ll be able to make fun of it afterwards together. 3/10.

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