Friday, October 19, 2018

AS ABOVE SO BELOW (2014) movie review

As Above So Below (2014 ) d. John Erick Dowdle (USA) (93 min)

Other than its intriguing setting, that of Les Catacombes de Paris (where much of the principal photography was actually lensed), there isn’t much new on display in this found-footage Young Female Indiana Jones meets The Descent, with a dose of “Oh, by the way, don’t desecrate the remains of six million dead French or you’ll have to face your own personal demons” and the shapeshifting traps of Cube (minus any rational explanation).

Dowdle (in his Poughkeepsie Tapes/Quarantine POV element) scripted the pulpy plot with his longtime producer/brother Drew. Their slapdash results concern young Scarlett Marlowe (Perdita Weeks), an earnest, orphaned, British ace archeologist and alchemy scholar fluent in six languages (including two “dead” ones) with two PhDs and a black belt in Krav Maga for good measure, searching for the mythical Philosopher’s Stone which supposedly contains the key to eternal life. Her travels take her from Iran to Paris, where she teams up with an American documentarian (because how else are we going to film all this), a former fellow explorer, and a team of urban spelunkers, all outfitted with seemingly indestructible and waterproof helmet-cams.

Once the group descends below the surface, they are subject to all manner of bizarre goings-on, none of which make a lick of sense and all of which are explained on the fly by our resident superwomanbrainiac while the audience’s eyes roll further and further into our collective heads.

The rest is all Harmless Cheap Thrills ‘R’ Us, complete with shaky-cam and a splash of jump-scare CGI, which is fine if that’s all you’re looking for. Amazingly, it’s somehow inconsequential enough to entertain while only being slightly insulting.


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