“As Above, So Below” Review
By Ike Hajinazarian
I’m not exactly sure what it means that I came out of “As Above, So Below” thinking, “It should have been worse.”
Does it mean that horror movies these days are absolutely atrocious? Yes.
But this movie advertised itself as being just as crappy as all of the other garbage horror movies of its day, so I think it just means that I was pleasantly surprised when it wasn’t actually awful.
Don’t get me wrong, though. It’s not “good” by any stretch of the imagination.
“As Above, So Below” focuses on the story of Scarlett, an explorer-researcher played by an annoyingly feigned and static Perdita Weeks, who’s following in her dead father’s footsteps.
She’s searching for the philosopher’s stone (miss you, Harry), a stone thought to be able to perform alchemy, a stone she believes is buried with the body of alchemist Nicolas Flamel deep in the catacombs beneath Paris.
Along with her trusty crew of French avant-garde catacomb explorers, cameraman and friend/translator/ex-lover George, played by the strikingly handsome yet altogether under whelming Ben Feldman, Scarlett begins her burrow into off-limits areas of the catacombs.
Things start getting scarier and scarier the deeper into the descent, and the second act of the film is where “As Above, So Below” sets itself apart, albeit just slightly, from other recent terrible horror films.
Director and co-screenwriter John Erick Dowdle nailed the atmosphere — one of the most important things to get right in a horror movie. During this middle half hour, the fear was palpable, the stakes were huge and the tension was 10 tons heavy.
However, once members of the team start dying and the descent into hell begins, the movie starts to go with them.
We feel little to no emotional attachment to the protagonist or any of the members of her team, so when the deaths start happening in tightly packed succession, it’s hard to really care.
The claustrophobia becomes tiresome and much less frightening, the set pieces begin to feel contrived, and the movie loses sight of where exactly it’s going.
None of the acting is anything worth noting, and the writing leaves quite a bit to be desired, but these things are both somewhat salvageable (in this genre at least).
Add on a completely uncooked ending, and a movie that could have been something actually pretty cool became just another forgettable horror flop.
At the end of the day, though, it really should have been worse.