Film Review: As Above, So Below – Best Horror I’ve Seen in a While

The ingredients of this film are delicious. An archaeologist searching for the philosopher’s stone, a trek underground into the catacombs of Paris, the documentary feel thanks to the “found footage” filming method, and a cast of characters I was rooting for – unusual for me when it comes to horror movies.

asaboveThe scares take a while to come along but the journey is worth it. We start with Scarlett (Perdita Weeks) in Iran, chasing down a lead from her dead father into a system of caves about to be blown up. She knocks through a wall and finds a statue probably unseen by human eyes for thousands of years, photographs the inscriptions and manages, in the nick of time, to escape with her life.

The drawings lead her to Paris where she tracks down her old pal George (Ben Feldman) who’s handy when it comes to translating ancient languages. With his help, Scarlett is certain the philosopher’s stone is hidden in a secret part of the catacombs no one has set foot in in hundreds of years.

As Above, So Below is mix of Indiana Jones, The Descent, The DaVinci Code and found footage films of the horror variety, not a bad combination. Like The Descent, this film effectively captures the claustrophobia of the tight caverns and the suffocating atmosphere that comes from being deep underground. When one of the crew actually gets stuck attempting to crawl through a narrow space, I watched with my stomach clenched, feeling his panic as if it was my own.

As the horror elements kick in, and Scarlett and her fellow explorers run into one hellish thing after another, I couldn’t help but think of a haunted house of horrors you’d find in a carnival. I was right there with them, huddled against the wall, afraid to look around the next corner. The references to Dante’s Inferno gave me chills. As Above, So Below got me Googling “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.” For the most part, this was a decent film. Some of the scary stuff at the end was unnecessary and felt forced, but didn’t take away from the creepy setting and the overall ominous atmosphere.

One major plus: The film crew actually got permission to shoot in the catacombs. It’s not a set.

I had a quick look on YouTube at the trailer, thinking I’d post it here, but nope. Please, please do not watch the trailer. It shows the whole story. Arg. This modern thing of trailers revealing every twist and turn is a pet peeve of mine. Does anyone remember the days when a trailer was about 10 seconds long, simply an intriguing teaser? Okay, I’m taking a deep breath now before the vein in my head pops. Here’s a short clip instead.

Overall, As Above, So Below is very enjoyable. Hopefully I’ve persuaded some of you to check it out?  

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Introducing PAPER GOLD PUBLISHING and its first author

Emma:

My friend Ella Medler has set up her own publishing company. Congratulations, Ella. I know with your talent you’ll do brilliantly.
If you have a free moment, pop over to check out Paper Gold Publishing.

Originally posted on ellamedler:

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Paper Gold Publishing is a royalty-paying publisher with international reach, where the focus is on the author.

Click on the link to see what we do, and help us spread the word. We are now open for submissions.

While I’ve got your attention, I would also like to introduce PGP’s first traditionally published author:

BRUCE BLAKE

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I first edited for Bruce in June 2012. All I can say is that he is an author of huge potential, and absolute master of the craft, and his books are a joy to read. You will not want to put them down. I wholeheartedly recommend them.

Over the years, Bruce’s writing has won him the Life Changing Read Award, and his books continue to wow fans of the fantasy genre.

Today, When Shadows Fall, the first book in the Small Gods Series, has been made available on all Amazon sites and also…

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Edinburgh: A City Steeped in History

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Photo taken by my sister Lucy from the park below Edinburgh Castle.

I’m already planning my next visit

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Sky view from our balcony the evening we arrived

I visited Edinburgh last weekend (my second time after many years) and while I can’t say I encountered anything supernatural on my trip through this Gothic town and the cobblestones of the Royal Mile, I had no trouble at all imagining this medieval city filled with ghosts. The architecture everywhere you look drops you back into the past, from the Georgian buildings of New Town to the medieval feel of Old Town where Edinburgh Castle rises tall. No wonder this city has been recognised as a World Heritage Site.

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Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh is a place to be explored at a leisurely pace. Stroll through the grand park below the castle, explore the centuries old headstones in the graveyard of St. Cuthbert’s Church at the foot of the castle, grab a whisky on the Royal Mile or opt for a walking tour. There are many to choose from. Just a few I came across included the Book Lovers Tour, Edinburgh Literary Tour and The Witchery Tour.

The castle sitting high  up on a rock in the middle of town is a jaw dropping sight. My first thought upon seeing this beautifully preserved fortress was “that must be where JK Rowling got her inspiration for Hogwarts.” Look at the photos below. Can’t you imagine Harry and his friends roaming the halls inside?

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I took a ghost tour on a freezing Saturday night. 27 people turned up despite the cold and we huddled together for warmth as our guide, Katie, led us from St. Giles’ Cathedral to the nearby Greyfriars cemetery. With the graveyard cloaked in darkness, it wasn’t difficult for her to create a spooky atmosphere as she took us through Edinburgh’s bloody and tragic past and warned us about the MacKenzie Poltergeist said to haunt one of the tombs in the locked part of the cemetery only tour guides from City of the Dead Tours had access to.

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Somehow, despite my best intentions, I ended up at the back of the group inside the tomb, fearfully wondering if the cold draft around my legs was ghostly in origin as Katie explained how poltergeists grow from fear. I linked my sisters’ arms on either side of me, only relaxing again as we left the tomb and the Covenanter’s Prison section of the cemetery behind. We went for a few pints in a local pub afterwards to ward off the chill from the late graveyard walk. One negative about the tour – Katie ruined the story of Greyfriars Bobby, the dog who sat for 14 years on his Master’s grave. I won’t go into it here, but grrr.

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Royal Mile. Top right = view from outside the castle. 

 

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Have you been to Edinburgh? Does the city appeal to you? What’s your favourite city in the world to visit?

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Sleepy Hollow – the most entertaining show I’ve seen in a while

Happy New Year.

I’m finally all caught up with Sleepy Hollow. I saw the first couple of episodes when the show began in 2013, but with so much good TV available, I found myself with way too much choice and didn’t stick with Lieutenant, ahem Leftenant Mills and Ichabod Crane. More fool me. Over Christmas, I breezed through the rest of season one and the first half of season 2.

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What an entertaining programme!

We’ve got a healthy dose of history with the intriguing portrayal of The American Revolution (albeit it a warped, fantastical slant of that historical period), a small(ish) town setting, a charming Englishman from the 1800s baffled by the ways of our 21st century world, one of the most enjoyable partnerships to watch since Mulder & Scully, and an intelligent, cool leading lady who I really like. I should say here that often when it comes to TV shows I find myself annoyed with the female lead. Clarke from The 100 anyone? Or Liz from Roswell? To top it all off, plenty of supernatural shenanigans abound in every episode.

If you haven’t watched it yet, please give it a chance. Tom Mison as our hero, Ichabod Crane, and Nicole Beharie as the highly capable Abbie Mills are Witnesses, destined to play a major role in fending off the apocalypse. They both have personal tragedies to bear, but manage to make it through crazy situations every episode with humour. It’s also great to see a black woman in a leading role. Beharie is awesome. Her character, Mills, is smart, tough, in a position of authority, and the chemistry between her and Crane kept me glued to the screen. I hope the writers keep their relationship platonic. It’s clear they share affection and a good friendship, but let’s keep the romance at bay, at least for now.

Check out Mills and Crane in this short clip, “Democracy in Action“.

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Are you a fan of Sleepy Hollow?

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Merry Christmas

Popping in to say Merry Christmas to everyone. Hope you enjoy the rest of December and see you again in 2015!

 

And here’s a trailer for one of my favourite Christmas movies, The Family Stone. I haven’t seen it on TV yet this year, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed it will be shown at some stage.

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