Movie Review: As Above, So Below (Spoiler Alert)

Horror film As Above, So Below documents a young archaeologist, Scarlet Marlowe (Perdita Weeks), and the long-suffering crew helping her wander the catacombs (underground chambers and tunnels) of Paris. Their goal is to find a relic allegedly holding the key to eternal life.

Archaeologist Scarlet (Perdita Weeks) and her friend, George (Ben Feldman) get sucked into a search for a legendary stone, getting more than they bargained for. (Joblo.com)

Archaeologist Scarlet (Perdita Weeks) and her friend, George (Ben Feldman) get sucked into a search for a legendary stone, getting more than they bargained for. (Joblo.com)

The film uses the same visual techniques used in box office hit Paranormal Activity. It’s been a while since we’ve had a decent horror movie – at least, on the surface. Those digging into the depths of this movie – going ‘so below,’ if you will – might see it’s full of holes.

Being a ‘found footage’ movie means the visual editing and post-production needs a good linear flow. Using out of place camera footage (cutting back and forth between two people, for example) can jar the viewer out of the movie. This happened multiple times in As Above, So Below, and distracted from my experience.

The sloppily developed story is another issue. Unanswered questions pop up through the film. Characters are missing portions of back story, confusing the viewer. Research was not there, either, with characters misidentifying things (Scarlet says she has a degree in ‘symbology,’ which isn’t a real thing; click here to see the debate regarding symbology via The Da Vinci Code for more details). Not so great for a movie trying to be smart.

My biggest bone to pick with this movie: why are we waiting almost a full hour before the roller coaster of scares? I like psychological teases as much as the next horror fan, but the story needs to move. There were moments of boredom as director John Erik Dowdle tried to draw out points of suspense. The result? An annoyed audience.

This movie had its fair share of scares (I had three good jumps, and it’s hard for me to get that!) – though they were typical of the horror genre. It also had moments where cameras were used creatively. My favourite shot used a camera hidden within a headscarf, only to have it whipped forward by Scarlet into a brilliant two-shot.

Should you see it? Sure, if you’re into scary movies and archaeology-inspired adventures. If you don’t like scary movies, are claustrophobic, or are creeped out by psychological, demonic-themed mythos, don’t watch this.

You may also want to skip it if you can’t enjoy the movie at face value – basically, for the moderate amount of scare you’ll get.

My rating: six guilty pasts out of ten.

Did you see this movie – or any other ones this weekend? Drop me a line @RiaRenouf with all your specs!

Ria Renouf is an Associate Editor for BCIT's Link Magazine. A second-year Broadcasting student, she'll report on anything; her first loves, however, are movies, music, gaming and technology. Outside of BCIT she reads many books and cheers for the Vancouver Canucks and Seattle Seahawks. She also aspires to be a new generation's Tintin, and does so by reporting for radio station CKNW News Talk 980AM's news desk.

ria@linkbcit.ca

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