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As Above, So Below (2014)

October 10th, 2019 by unkle lancifer · 4 Comments

As it turns out, it appears that I am a big fan of AS ABOVE, SO BELOW. I’m a little startled by this newfound awareness but maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised; it was directed by JOHN ERICK DOWDLE the same guy who delivered above-average horror fare like DEVIL and QUARANTINE. It’s just that I assumed that I was basically done with the whole found-footage gimmick and it seemed to have been generally trashed by most critics (its Rotten Tomatoes score is way harsh). I guess it just goes to show you that you have to keep your eyes open and never listen to anyone else when it comes to horror because what scares us is always a very personal thing. In any case, I was very wrong in assuming that AASB was just another cheap also-ran with nothing new to offer. It’s actually pretty darn unique in that it works as a rousing adventure flick as much as it works as a claustrophobic, psychological horror tale. There’s also something strangely relieving about a found footage flick in which it consistently makes sense that folks keep filming. Plus I think the world needed a good horror movie that takes place in the skeleton infested catacombs underneath Paris; it’s such a fascinating location that can’t help but bring the dread.

PERDITA WEEKS stars as Scarlett Marlow who means to continue her father’s work in tracking down an Indiana Jones-esque alchemy stone that can turn crap into gold and also does the nifty trick of granting eternal life. She’s somehow able to corral her ex-boyfriend and a couple of tagalongs in her kooky quest miles below the city. Inspired by the possibility of fame and fortune, this crew is amazingly adept at ignoring blaring red flags and warning signs which include (I believe) flashing subliminal ghosts (?), a cult of possessed females, an impossible piano from the past and a car on fire. Everybody involved seems to have horrible guilt from long-ago events that the evil caves are somehow able to capitalize on (that’s what evil caves do). If that weren’t enough, there are plenty of traps that can kill you and a wrong move can result in your being crushed under rocks. Things get worse and worse as the group gets further and the only way out appears to be to keep trudging deeper into more and more danger and more and more crazy-making blasts from the past. It’s almost as if they are literally traipsing through hell itself and honestly the claustrophobia and phantasmagorical happenings really start to get to me.

When I was a wee lad reading THE AMITYVILE HORROR, I remember the most terrifying part for me was when a hooded figure appeared at the top of the stairs during the climax and (if I’m remembering correctly) pointed a finger at the fleeing Lutz family. I was so disappointed that this scene never made it to either cinematic adaptation because for me, it signified that the shit was hitting the fan and that all debates over the reality of the supernatural threat were over. Essentially it’s the moment when the impossible becomes undeniable. AASB has such a scene. It fiendishly takes its kid gloves off and pushes these hooded Knights Templar looking dudes forward and after being so convinced of the reality of the situation, there’s something truly alarming about removing any question of the validity of the evil uncontrollable forces (Sorry, I hope that’s vague enough to not be a spoiler). AASB is currently on Netflix but I had to get a physical copy for myself in case it ever disappears. This is one truly underrated, almost horrifically poetic movie and I’m looking forward to return to it many times in the future. I also want the poster, the t-shirt and the theme park ride if that is at all possible.

Tags: General Horror

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 bdwilcoxNo Gravatar // Oct 10, 2019 at 7:19 pm

    Ah yes, one of my favorite hidden gems. There’s a reason you felt that “It’s almost as if they are literally traipsing through hell itself” and the story seemed like an adventure. As a hint, the sign on one door reads “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here” which is found in the famous book this movie is loosely based upon.

    As an aside, this movie was shot in the actual Parisian catacombs.

  • 2 El BorakNo Gravatar // Oct 10, 2019 at 7:48 pm

    love this film.

  • 3 Chuckles72No Gravatar // Oct 11, 2019 at 1:02 am

    I had this one confused with another catacombs-themed flick (which I did not like) and therefore did not watch it for about a year until I realized that AASB was a different film – and way better! I’m actually not claustrophobic, but by the time that they were like 7 levels down I was just wanting them to call it a day and head back.

  • 4 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Oct 11, 2019 at 8:21 am

    I LOVE that they filmed in the actual catacombs. You can really feel the weight of the history there.
    I used to have a store in a basement here in Philly and we put “Abandon all hope all ye who enter here” above the door- I always seemed to find work in basements somehow.

    El Borak,
    Right? It’s so unquestionably good I’m surprised by the bad review. Maybe it was a timing thing. I guess the premise is a little silly but I totally fall for it hook line and sinker. Love it.

    I remember that movie! It was actually called Catacombs and it had Pink and Shannyn Sossamon in it! I have the screener from my video store days but never watched it. It’s on my desk now and I’m going to give it a chance soon – I don’t have high hopes though. I think they used the catacombs for a little bit in American Werewolf in Paris too.

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