I should have known better but the idea behind As Above/So Below seemed so interesting. Sadly after a strong start it devolves in the same crap that you’ve seen in every found-footage movie to date.
Do you enjoy obvious jump-scares? Do you enjoy barely seeing anything every time something exciting happens as the camera is dropped & shaken like crazy? Do you enjoy extreme close-ups of faces spluttering & crying?
If so then As Above/So Below is just for you, the rest of us should probably stay away.
The story goes like this…Scarlett is continuing the work of her dead father who spent his life trying to find the fabled philosopher’s stone. After uncovering a secret in Iran she meets a friend in France who helps her decode it. It leads them to believe that the stone is hidden in a secret room in the French catacombs…now they just have to get there.
They hook up with a guide, his friends & a cameraman, promptly sneak in through a hidden passage that all un-official tours use. It’s not long before the off-track route brings its problems as the team are forced into a route that is rumoured to be haunted.
As they make their way further into the catacombs they begin to see things & visions that have them questioning what is real. The further they go, the more they realise that they might be in Hell itself.
As Above/So Below has an idea that should have made it a winner especially if you’re interested in the biblical side of Hell. The idea that Hell would be a place tied into several things that fascinated me, Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy & the Well to Hell hoax.
A frantic opening 10 minutes serve to set up the rest of the movie nicely but also acts as a timely reminder of why found-footage movies need to stop. Our heroine reveals herself to be a selfish risk-taker in the opening act & spends most of the start dropping the camera & shaking it about like we’re on a roller coaster. I’m not a fan of peering into darkness wondering what the hell is going.
When the movie isn’t trying to make me get motion sickness the camera shots are much more bearable & the build up to the catacombs both interesting & exciting. The sense of foreboding as the group are forced into a tunnel that they shouldn’t be going down is excellent & there are some genuinely creepy moments.
Once again though, all the good work is destroyed by obvious jump scares & stupid decisions. All of the crew have helmet lights & cameras attached…that is your plausible reason for things being recorded but instead we get the same tired rubbish as no matter the events going on around them the main handeheld camera continues to roll.
That the movie chose to not touch upon the circles of Hell as the crew make their way deeper into the catacombs was incredibly disappointing. The sequence of events that follow them crossing the possible gates of Hell feel light-weight in comparison to what came before. The best bits are in the trailer…
If you’ve reached the final 20 minute point & still enjoying yourself, the movie goes out of its way to make sure you won’t anymore. I can barely remember what I saw as a frantic dash mixed in with lots of falling over left me feeling frustrated at the laziness of filming it this way. A minor subplot regarding suicide fails to have the desired effect & a rubbish declaration of ‘feelings’ make it even worse.
All of this leads to the most anti-climatic ending I’ve seen in any found-footage movie to date. Seriously…I was stunned that it would end so suddenly & so poorly.
A brilliant idea mixed with some early creepy moments should have made even this found-footage movie a winner. It drops the ball horrifically & ends up copying the same tired tropes that were out-dated 5 years ago. Disappointing…
As Above/So Below