Found footage horror movies appeared and disappeared like the flash of a camera snap. The concept has worn thin on many fans; both of films and horror films alike and yet due to their extremely cheap framing process, people still put out shaky camera lead horror films and expect everyone to eat it up like candy. When it came to watching “As above so below,” I was very nervous I was going to get another disastrous “Chernobyl Diaries” or a poor knock off of the superior “The Descent.” Both of those films had similar likenesses to the clips and commercials I saw for “As above so below” when it was first coming out. Was I disappointed by another dismal duplication, or did I get a sweet scary surprise with this latest camera shaky shock fest? You’re about to find out.
Miles and miles underneath the streets of Paris lay catacombs that house over 600 corpses from decade’s worth of ancient history and horror. Eager archaeologist Scarlet (Perdita Weeks) organizes a team of curious explorers who want to explore the catacombs; in order to find the legendary “Philosopher’s stone” that her father died while trying to discover. Unfortunately, once the group enters the catacombs; they each began to experience horrors and Hellish visions that torment them and drag them deeper into the deepest darkness ever imagined. Now the group is trying to escape descent into Hell with their lives and sanity intact.
At first glance, this film appears to be nothing more than a wobbly camera shot exploration into a world of jump scares, ghoulish figures and hollow characters you could care less about if they lived or died. While some of those clichés do exist in this film; for the most part, everything was surprisingly quite good and provided genuine tension and terror. This is one of those films that make you think it’s one thing and then the deeper you dig into it; the more you realize something better is building up and turning out to be quite different in the ways of horror and scares. This adventure gone to Hell (literally) provided some interesting and actual useful history that made the characters quest actually worth remembering.
Many horror films that use religion as a template rely on symbolic imagery, dark shadows with crosses and shouting bible passages to make things intense. But in “As above so below”, it’s use is as subtle and powerful as the horrifying Hell images the cannon fodder characters witness. I’m not big on accepting spirituality being accurately presented in cinema but I have to say, this idea/concept of what Hell would look and feel like seems eerily dead on in a way. There was so much confusion, subtle mystery and unholy horror in the images you see and witness that this film came off more convincing then I would have expected. It sounds strange to see a version of Hell and say you feel it’s “accurate” but that’s just the kind of effect this movie had on me.
The cast works just fine, the ones you want to remember do a good enough job and they don’t feel completely useless and expendable like some horror movies produce; even the ending turned out to be a nice surprise. Besides the typical clichés found footage horror movies come with, there are a few times where you just go “How the hell does that work?” and the film forgets to explain some pretty big illogical inconsistencies. Overall, “As above so below” is not a genre bending, ground breaking horror film that makes you think or feel any differently towards fount footage films. However, there is a surprisingly decent amount of good chills, genuine surprises and clever twists that make this far from forgettable. It’s a decent flick with an above average portrayal of Hell’s dark, inner workings and uses well developed fear rather than jump scares to deliver it’s dark delights.