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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About Emma

Buffy fan, avid reader, writer.
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18 Responses to Film Review: As Above, So Below – Best Horror I’ve Seen in a While

  1. This really sounds like my kind of movie!

    My husband says the same thing about trailers. He won’t watch them because he says they show the best parts of the movie.

    • Emma says:

      I’d say you’d like this, Lauralynn.
      Yeah, I try not to watch trailers these days, but when I go to the cinema, it’s hard to avoid them on the big screen with surround sound!

  2. Cool. I’ll have to check it out. Thanks! 🙂

  3. fuonlyknew says:

    Yeah you liked it! It should be in my mailbox tomorrow from Netflix and I can’t wait. I love that it’s filmed on site and not on a set. I bet that scared the actors a bit too. LOL Great review Emma. And I agree, some of the trailers show too much. Psst…I didn’t watch it!

    • Emma says:

      Enjoy it, Laura. I hope I haven’t built it up too much. It was a pleasant surprise when I watched this. The “found footage” genre is becoming old, but this one was worth the watch.
      I can imagine how difficult it was to film in those tiny corridors.

  4. Mae Clair says:

    I hadn’t heard of this movie, but it sounds awesome. Thanks for highlighting. This is one I want to look into!

  5. Jen Naumann says:

    I’ve been waiting a long time for this one. Can’t wait to check it out!

  6. This sounds super spooky! I remember when I watched The Descent, the scariest part of it wasn’t the monsters, it was when that girl got stuck between two sections of the cave, it actually made me feel physically sick and creeped me out for days after. The scene above sounds really similar so I might just have to skip this one. Not sure my wits can take it, hehee.

    • Ohh I also forgot to say, I love when they shoot these films in that footage style. I know some people find it annoying but I think it works really well. 🙂

      • Emma says:

        Spooky indeed, Becky. The lead character is British with a very posh accent.

        Yep, The Descent had my nerves on edge. I could never ever ever go cave exploring. Me and tight spaces do not go well together. That incident I mentioned is the only bad claustrophobia scene (that I can remember), so you might be okay watching this film.

        I like the “found footage” genre when they try something different. Like Willow Creek – that was good.

  7. sherry fundin says:

    Trailers are supposed to be a tease, not a tell all. Sometimes the style will make the film. Sounds scary good to me. 🙂
    sherry @ fundinmental

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