As Above/So Below follows a pair of advanced degreed academics who have crossed the globe looking to solve one of ancient history’s biggest mysteries. They believe the answers to all of their questions lie beneath Paris in the city's iconic catacombs. What they find, will be so much more.
The film, from writer-director Drew Dowdle and John Erik Dowdle (writer-producer), is certainly original in the annals of found footage horror movies. That tired subgenre gets a shot in the arm in the originality department with As Above/So Below, we give you that. But, is that enough to make it a film worthy of spending time and money on?
Perdita Weeks is beyond compelling as Scarlett and as the film begins we are with her in Iran (illegally) as she makes a haunting and powerful discovery. What she finds, she cannot completely understand -- so she heads to Paris to find George (Ben Feldman). He can read ancient languages and can decipher what she discovered in Iran. Lucky for them, it leads them to a dark and scary world that lies beneath the City of Lights.
Documentary crew in tow, they head down into the catacombs, led by a group of French adventurers who know some secret passageways and nooks and crannies of the centuries-old area below the city that few human eyes have ever seen. According to what George and Scarlett believe, a revolutionary societal and scientific discovery awaits.
As you can tell from the As Above/So Below trailer, the film has something clearly going for it that amps up the scare factor. It is incredibly dark down in the catacombs and it was an area that was basically used as a mass graveyard for six million souls. That could not be more haunting.
Why else As Above/So Below works for us is that it isn’t a mindless tale about a group of kids being terrified. These are highly educated individuals and the history they are exploring is truly fascinating. This is a richer landscape for the found footage format than we’ve seen, basically since Chronicle.
Once down in the catacombs, the audience can feel the claustrophobic elements that could easily have your mind playing tricks on you. Our group sees things that they know are not there, yet through the lens of their helmet cams, we believe that they are real -- and so do they.
And yes, that is horrifying.
The jumps arrive around corners, literally, that you would never expect. And isn’t that what you want from a horror movie, found footage or otherwise?
Our As Above/So Below review recommends taking a tour of the Paris catacombs, through the eyes of Weeks’ Scarlett and Feldman’s George. If nothing else, it’s frightening fun.