Slowly, but surely, I’m learning to completely ignore the general public when they call a movie “bad.” You’d think I’d know better already; ever since I was a kid I’ve loved the movies that get unanimously negative reviews.
John Erick Dowdle's 2014 film As Above, So Below is no exception to the rule. I was curious about the movie when it came out, but everyone who brought it up in conversation only had bad things to say about it. I blame the shaky cam narrative, which immediately turns some people off. It definitely couldn’t have been the story, because it was fast-paced, always interesting, and rich with mythology.
The movie follows Scarlett (Perdita Weeks), a young woman with multiple degrees and an ever-growing thirst for knowledge. She’s the type of person who can’t let a loose thread go, and much like her deceased father, her quest for truth leads her on a path to madness.
Scarlett has discovered evidence of the fabled Philosopher’s Stone. Although her friends know the dangers she’s willing to put herself through in the name of truth, she gathers a small and reluctant group to venture into the catacombs below Paris. Unfortunately, the dangers below the surface are much more than physical…Scarlett and her friends will risk damnation itself.
As Above, So Below felt a lot like a horror spinoff of the Uncharted video game series. In fact, I’ll bet it’s at least twice as true to the game as the upcoming movie starring Tom Holland, even if it’s an incidental similarity. I was intrigued throughout the entire movie, and I haven’t been this excited about death traps and psychological torture since the first few Saw movies were in theaters.
The movie is found footage, and the reasoning for this narrative framing is Scarlett is being filmed for a documentary about her search for the Philosopher’s Stone. Although Lord Voldemort doesn’t appear at all (sorry, Potterheads), the movie is particularly scary when the main focus is on things like claustrophobia rather than demons and other lurking creatures.
All in all, As Above, So Below is an immensely unnerving experience, and I feel like it deserves to be revisited by horror fans who initially dismissed it. I mean, Scarlett’s willing to risk life and soul to find a stone…can’t you risk 90 minutes to find a heart?
Throughout the month of October, I’ll be reviewing 31 movies I’ve never seen before. Is there an excellent movie you think I haven’t seen? Tell me in the comments below, and I’ll check it out!