Found footage has become a staple of the horror genre pretty much since The Blair Witch Project made it a bankable genre in 1999. Many people are not fans due to the often shaky cam style of the films but the genre does have its defenders like yours truly. I love the sense of being there that found footage created, the sense that you are watching something you shouldn’t be watching. The voyeur in me loves that aspect. But it is a tricky genre when it comes to execution. There usually has to be a lot of buildup and it is tricky to make everything happen in camera in a believable fashion. The latest film in the genre is this weeks As Above So Below.
Scarlet Marlowe (Perdita Weeks) has been searching most of her life for ancient artifacts, specifically the Philosophers Stone, carrying on where her father had left off. After discovering strange markings in Iran, she travels to the catacombs beneath Paris looking for the tomb of a famed alchemist which may hold the key to finding the mythical treasure. But once in the catacombs with her search party, they find more than they bargained for when reality seems to distort around them and personal demons seem to materialize before their eyes. Now making it out alive may end up being the myth.
As Above So Below is a really intriguing found footage film for two main reasons. One is that it is actually filmed in the real catacombs beneath Paris and to great effect. The atmosphere is authentic and thick with dread. The second thing it has going for it is the distorted reality aspect of the story. This is no story of a group being lost and stalked by a killer, they are actually being stalked by their own pasts and by forces beyond their comprehension. It is a fascinating little mystery thriller that keeps you guessing even beyond the end credits, a great movie to watch with a group and discuss theories of afterwards. That probably has something to do with the fact that it was written by John Erick Dowdle and Drew Dowdle (Quarantine, Devil) and directed by John Erick Dowdle. Based on their previous movies they have a solid knack for twisty thrills. It also helps that the cast is very competent, especially lead actress Perdita Weeks, who is very charismatic and carries the bulk of the story well. As Above So Below is a great little thriller well worth checking out. And the camera isn’t all that shaky either…
The Blu-ray from Universal Studios Home Entertainment is a very nice transfer, capturing the real mood and texture of the actual Paris catacombs very well. For that reason alone As Above So Below is worth seeing. Recommended.
Available now on Blu-ray and DVD.