As Above So Below review (15)
Over the past few years the horror genre seems to have veered towards blood, guts and unbelievable gore.
As Above So Below doesn’t really conform to that Saw-like norm, deciding instead to do more psychological damage using more conventional fears such as claustrophobia and darkness, while also digging up any past indiscretions that are in your locker.
That’s the reality for the characters in this John Erick Dowdle-directed film that I actually enjoyed way more than initially expected.
As Above So Below follows archaeologist Scarlett Marlowe (Perdita Weeks) in her quest to find the Philosopher’s Stone, a mythical object that is said to turn metal into gold and grant eternal life (if you’ve seen Harry Potter or Tomb Raider, you’ll be aware of the concept).
It’s a personal mission of sorts, with Scarlett having lost her dad to his endless pursuit of the artefact. She’s bidding to restore his tainted reputation by proving the stone actually exists – and will stop at nothing to find it.
Having scoured Iran for clues, Scarlett finds evidence that suggests the hallowed stone is resting deep underground in the grave-like catacombs of Paris.
She enlists the help of documentarian Benji (Edwin Hodge), archaeologist George (Ben Feldman) and French natives Papillon (François Civil), Souxie (Marion Lambert), and Zed (Ali Marhyar) before delving underground for what soon looks to be a suicide mission.
What lurks deep under the French capital is essentially hell on earth, with each of the characters forced to face their deepest fears if they are to survive.
Crawling through human bones and delving down seemingly endless holes in the ground are the order of the day, while there are some genuine ‘jump out of your seat’ scary moment.
The claustrophobic nature of their journey is further emphasised by the use of Blair Witch/Cloverfield style shooting, with each of the characters wearing a personal camera on their heads.
It made Scarlett and co’s plight seem all the more hopeless and really worked for me.
Despite the relatively modest cast, there are some strong performances here – with Weeks in particular proving a strong lead.
I also enjoyed the setting, with the catacombs a pretty awesome – and unforgiving – location. After watching the film I learned it’s the only movie so far granted access to film in the off-limits sections of the catacombs, so it certainly gets top marks for originality.
The only real negative I can offer you in that regard is that the catacombs don’t get as much prominence as they perhaps should, with a lot of the scenes later in the movie actually pretty generic.
There’s not a whole lot of new ground broken in the nuts and bolts of the storyline either, but I did enjoy the adventure side of the plot.
It had a bit of Indiana Jones or Uncharted (the PlayStation video game) about it, which broke up the horror element of the rest of the script.
And although it’s not the best horror or adventure themed film you’ll ever watch, As Above So Below is easily the best ‘scary’ offering I’ve seen so far this year.
Rating: 3.5/5 (Watched at West End Cinema, Boston)
SHOWTIMES AT WEST END CINEMA, BOSTON
(Friday, September 5 to Thursday, September 11)
**THE HUNDRED FOOT JOURNEY (PG)
12.15pm (Sat/Sun), 3pm (Fri/Sat/Sun/Weds), 5.45pm (daily), 8.45pm (daily)
**SEX TAPE (15)
4.35pm (daily), 6.40pm (daily), 8.45pm (daily)
**BOXTROLLS 3D (PG)
12.30pm (Sat/Sun), 4.35pm (Sun)
**BOXTROLLS 2D (PG)
10am (Sat/Sun), 2.30pm (Sat/Sun)
AS ABOVE SO BELOW (15)
LETS BE COPS (15)
4.45pm (daily), 9pm (daily)
SIN CITY 2: A DAME TO KILL FOR 3D (18)
2.30pm (Fri/Weds), 6.45pm (daily), 8.50pm (daily)
THE INBETWEENERS MOVIE 2 (15)
2.30pm (Fri/Sat/Sun/Weds), 4.35pm (not Sun), 8.40pm (daily), 8.45pm (daily)
INTO THE STORM (12A)
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY 3D (12A)
THE UNBEATABLES 2D (U)
THE NUT JOB 2D (U)
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 2D (PG)
10am (Sat/Sun), 12.15pm (Sat/Sun)
PLANES 2 2D (U)
10am (Sat/Sun), noon (Sat/Sun)
Fri-Thurs 10.30am – Me Peabody and Sherman 2D (U)
Wed 11.30am – Into The Storm (12A)
** Denotes free list suspended
Box office: 01205 363634