By Valerie Velikaya
Forget about the “Temple of Doom.” Join a team of amateur archeologists in an adrenaline-fueled escapade through the Parisian Catacombs.
Don’t expect to survive… through the movie, that is.
From Director John Erick Dowdle, who brought us forgettable films such as “Quarantine” and “Devil,” “As Above, So Below,” is reminiscent of “The Blair Witch Project” with a twist of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” – let’s throw in “The Descent” just for kicks.
The title itself is an inscription, symbolizing the gateway to hell, and as the group treads through the maze of bone fragments in search of an alchemical stone, the cryptic message is brought to fruition.
Scarlett, the unspoken, Lara Croft-esque heroine, persuades a team of inquisitive thrill-seekers into a sadomasochistic-type predicament in the hopes of rectifying her deceased father’s unfinished work.
With the exception of cameraman, Benji, and Scarlett’s ex-boyfriend, George, the rest of the group reluctantly tags along after word of undiscovered treasure.
Each member of the expedition sports a headset camera, enabling audiences to catch awkward glimpses from their perspectives.
The shaky cameras top off the film’s cheap scares; however, like most movies with sporadic camera movements, the concept grows into an annoyance.
The groups’ initial meeting with the downright bizarre is through a satanic cult as they’re in the midst of their candlelit sing-along.
While those with common-sense would typically bail after such a sight, these guys continue to follow a determined, and rather, manipulative Scarlett on her voyage to find the Philosopher’s stone.
But soon after, the walk through the catacombs turns into a suspenseful escape from the depths of Hell where members are haunted by lost ones from the past.
The frightened team becomes increasingly aware of the threatening presence in the underground passageway; a hooded figure, presumably the devil – though the entity looks suspiciously like Voldemort’s long begotten French brother.
Corpses from the Middle Ages are found preserved, phones ring through the eerie passageways as other unspeakable occurrences take place.
The team of explorers winds up going in circles, discovering tunnels that take them deeper into the abyss.
“As Above, So Below” will sit on the shelves as one of the worst horror films of the season. It leaves audiences confused and disturbed at the fact that they’d spent an hour and 40 minutes watching the eradication of a historical site.
Otherwise, the catacombs are an extraordinary landmark.
… As long as one doesn’t venture too far.