Film Review: As Above, So Below

Every year at least one good horror hits theaters.  By good, I mean it actually gives me a few scares and I go recommend it to fellow fright aficionados.

As Above, So Below is not in the above category.  In fact I’m not sure I could even suggest you watch it when it comes on cable TV, let alone as a rental.

If you’ve seen the trailer, it’s another found-footage film that appears to be a bunch of people in the catacombs of Paris who stumble into hell itself.  Well, the reality of the film is even worse than the trailer.

Scarlett (Perdita Weeks) is an archeologist with three PhD’s who is trying to finish her father’s search for….the Philosopher’s Stone.  Yes, that incredibly important, completely fictional stone thought by alchemists to turn substances into gold as well as make you immortal.  Now, I can understand and even appreciate artistic license, but to hinge a horror film on a centuries-old myth and then make it the crucial plot point is pretty damn silly.  Yes, I know it seems like I’m ruining part of the film for you, but trust me, you need to know this.

Scarlett’s completely illegal and somehow unnoticed adventures lead her to conclude that the Philosopher’s Stone is in a hidden chamber somehow connected to the Parisian catacombs.  So she hires a guide who specializes in illicit spelunking to help her find it.  And so, twenty painful, poorly placed minutes are finished and now we get to the actual scary stuff, right?

Well, no.  Not really.  Strangely enough, the parts of the film where there are no supernatural things going on are the best.  While the six people in this film aren’t exactly amazing actors and actresses, there is one particular scene where Benji (Edwin Hodge) has a bit of a freak out in a confined space that actually made me feel claustrophobic.  This was despite the fact that I was sitting in a huge movie theater surrounded by all of five other people.

It’s when the strange and eerie things start to happen that the film goes from decently creepy to downright terrible.  I was scared once, and while I’ll give the film credit for making my heart skip a beat despite the fact that I saw it coming a mile away, I can’t give it too much credit because it was a freaking jump scare.  Also, the special effects are laughable and any non-human entities you see are poorly lit for a reason.

Really, that’s all there is to As Above, So Below.  It’s a half-assed attempt at being scary with absolutely no knowledge of what scary really is.  Sorry, guys.  I can’t be frightened by alchemy, even if you try to turn it into a tale of heaven and hell.