As Halloween quickly approaches, horror films are beginning to dominate cinema listings up and down the country. For 2014, the likes of “The Quiets Ones”, “Annabelle”, “Deliver Us From Evil” and “Dracula Untold” are expected to rate highly at the box office, as well as providing a number of scares. Can “As Above So Below” slip under the radar and become a surprise hit?
The docu-horror focuses on a team of explorers venturing into the miles of twisting catacombs that lay beneath the streets of Paris – the eternal home to countless souls, where the Philosopher’s Stone is kept (according to the legend). However, it’s not long before the team reach deep into the human psyche to reveal the personal demons that come back to haunt us all.
At the beginning of the film, the plot is filled with a lot of promise. The catacombs are a solid choice of location for a horror movie and the legend of the Philosopher’s Stone provides the basis of a great mystery. Unfortunately, the execution of these concepts is questionable.
The main problem with As Above So Below is that it lacks originality. Scarlett (Perdita Weeks) is a British archaeologist who shares a lot of similarities with Lara Croft from the “Tomb Raider” series and the constant references to Nicolas Flamel and the Philosopher’s Stone are a strong reminder of the original “Harry Potter” book and film. At times, you’re almost expecting a three-headed dog and a life-size chess set to be guarding the stone.
In terms of cinematography, the use of the found footage shaky-cam (which has been used countless times before in horror films) adds to the mysteriousness of the catacombs. However, it doesn’t necessarily work in the film’s favour overall, often distracting the viewer from the main shocks and thrills. While the film isn’t short of jumpy movements, you can’t help but feel there are a lot of missed opportunities.
Another of As Above So Below’s downfalls is that none of the characters are particularly likeable. It’s difficult for cinemagoers to make a connection with the actors, who fail to portray the level of emotion required, especially during the more climatic scenes.