Review: ‘As Above, So Below’ only so-so horror mash-up
“Abandon all hope, ye who enter here,” is the inscription uncovered by a gang of 20-something treasure hunters in the catacomb-hopping horror flick “As Above, So Below.” But the warning could easily apply to viewers checking out this rather hopeless mash-up of “The Descent” and “(Rec),” not to mention a dozen other found-footage movies that have clogged the screens over the last five years.
Hardly credible, even for a film claiming that the gates of hell lie a few hundred feet below Paris (if anywhere, they can be found in an overcrowded Metro car with no air conditioning), this low-budget effort from director John Erick Dowdle and writer-producer-brother Drew Dowdle provides a few late scares after plenty of eye-rolling setup, with said scares due more to the heavy sound design than the action itself.
First seen wearing a headscarf as she explores an off-limits cavern in Iran, gorgeous tomb raider Scarlett (Perdita Weeks) claims to be a black belt in Capoeira while holding a doctorate from University College London. While she never uses her fighting skills and fails to cite Dante when coming across the above-mentioned quote, she’s still brazen enough to continue her dead father’s lifelong quest to discover the legendary, eternal-life giving Philosopher’s Stone.
Teaming up with an ex-pat clockmaker (Ben Feldman, aka Ginsberg on “Mad Men”) who also speaks fluent Aramaic, and a guy named Benji (Edwin Hodge, “The Purge”), the requisite cameraman-who-keeps-shooting-at-all-costs, Scarlett uncovers a few clues that lead her to the Paris catacombs, which famously house the bones of six million dead.
Cue up lots of stinging sound effects, eerie chanting, rats, a freaky dude named “the Mole” (Cosme Castro) who pops up now and then (and who, for no reason, everyone addresses in English), and a slew of lame paranormal gags.
Along with a well-chosen closing song from French DJs Scratch Massive, and one or two genuine scares, that’s about the best this excursion has to offer. Come for the poster, stay for the end credits.
‘As Above, So Below’
Rated Rfor bloody violence and terror, and language throughout
Running time: 93 minutes
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