“As Above, So Below” is a 2014 found footage horror film written and directed by John Erick Dowdle (Quarantine, No Escape), distributed by Universal Pictures. The film had an interesting campaign strategy, utilizing the talents of YouTube star PewDiePie to raise interest in the movie. I saw the film in theaters when it was released. I am ashamed to admit I laughed out loud, which had me wondering if I was too hard on the film.

Scarlett Marlowe (Perdita Weeks) is a traveling scholar interested in ancient alchemy, specifically Nicolas Flamel. After finding an artifact, she realizes she found the tool to unravel the mysteries deep within the catacombs of Paris. She embarks deep into the unknown with a group of treasure hunters and experts, but the further down, the greater the tests and challenges they face.

In Film

What I Like

The deeper our leads go into the depths of the catacombs, the more inspired by the Seven Layers of Hell. There are several engaging ideas here as the film gives us clues to the sins of our protagonists, sometimes directly stating it. This unraveling of sins is the strongest point within the film. All are tested in some Christian way to varying degrees, showcasing their deepest fears and insecurities.

In Film

What I Dislike

Or I should say, that was the intention. I can’t take away the interesting premise. Even the effects are more competent than a 2014 found footage film needs to be, but something was lacking. I gave this view the benefit of the doubt because I wanted to understand why I laughed in the theater all those years ago. What was so unscary, so distracting, that I became a rude audience member?

This movie does linger in its horror, which I usually like, but the horror isn’t that damning. We know too little about most characters to understand how the horror relates, meant only to die with a nice visual to accompany them. My experience was that of a wax museum, wandering each gallery and thinking, okay. The environment is claustrophobic, giving each chamber a diorama feel. You move from one horror to the next, knowing only the spectacle. The problem is that the spectacles are only competent, not the selling point of a movie designed around them.

Zeth M. Martinez

Final Thoughts

For found footage enthusiasts, there are better choices. However, “As Above, So Below” is an interesting premise with a nice touch of Dante’s Inferno. The visuals still hold up enough, though I wouldn’t call them impressive. Overall, I would give this a skip.
1.5 out of 5 stars (1.5 / 5)

About the Author

Zeth received his M.A in English with a focus in Creative Writing at CSU, Chico. As a human writer, he published in the 9th volume of Multicultural Echoes, served on the editorial board of Watershed Review, and is a horror reviewer for Haunted MTL. All agree he is a real-life human and not an octopus in human skin. Fascinated by horror novels and their movie adaptations, Zeth channels his bone-riddled arms in their study. Games are also a tasty treat, but he only has the two human limbs to write. If you enjoy his writing, check out his website.

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