People! I want you to relish this moment, as I don’t expect you’ll hear me saying it again any time soon…I really, really enjoyed a found footage Horror film!!
While there are a few decent ones out there (Ghost Encounters YO!), I’ve seen so many absolutely terrible ones (lookin at you Willow Creek) that I must confess to being extremely jaded. Which isn’t a very good quality in a reviewer, seeing as remaining objective becomes difficult.
That being said, I watched As Above, So Below knowing nothing about it and was so pleasantly surprised I actually watched it twice.
Drink Pairing: Absinthe. And not that American shit, make sure its got that Thujone. The green fairy will be the perfect viewing partner.
Scarlett (played by Perdita Weeks) is something of a treasure hunter. Although her motivations are atypical, she’s picked up her father’s quest to discover Flamel’s Stone (The Philosopher’s Stone) which he abandoned by taking his own life.
We pick her story up in another country, where we learn that Scarlett will go to any lengths to find the stone, putting her life in danger without regard. After uncovering a massive secret, Scarlett returns to France, where she hopes to finally obtain the priceless artifact with the help of her old friend George (Ben Feldman).
Together, Scarlett and George discover that the stone may be buried in a secret catacomb beneath Paris, in the city of the dead. Enlisting the help of a trio of urban explorers, the group makes their way underground and into danger.
Nudity – Not exactly…there’s a brief flash of some painted titty but that’s about it. See if you can spot it!
Scare Factor – There’s some very intense/suspenseful moments that’ll keep you on edge throughout and some decent jump scares. My girlfriend, now a seasoned horror fan, actually screamed a few times.
Writing/Performances – Easily the best part of the film. Fantastic writing that tells an enthralling story is backed by believable and genuine performances – nearly perfect, honestly. Oh, and a note on continuity – there’s a reason for the camera’s to be on throughout the whole movie (they need the lights) and all camera’s are accounted for at the end, something that always bugs me in found footage flicks.
As Above, So Below was quite successful on many fronts, and all the pitfalls found footage flicks usually encounter are not to be found. Using the premise of a documentary surrounding Scarlett’s search for the Philosopher’s stone, the vehicle driving the story moves seamlessly – and we get extra angles in the form of pin camera’s on headlamps. Brilliant.
Then there’s the plot itself – the marketing team did an exemplary job not revealing too much, so I was blown away to learn our main characters were hunting a priceless historical artifact! Not to mention there’s alchemy, magic and demons OH MY!
The most enjoyable part of the film for me though was that the twists were genuine twists – at no point did I find myself calling bullshit, or scoffing. Director John Erick Dowdle played on all the fears you’d expect to encounter (claustrophobia HO!) and throws some extra’s on top. AND, for a film set largely in tunnels, I was never bored of the surroundings.
To top it off, the story made sense, and was remarkably cerebral for its genre. And I actually enjoyed the ending – which is rarer than a unicorn buttfucking a leprechaun on the rainbow bridge to Asgard.
TL;DR 7.5/10 – By no means a perfect movie, As Above, So Below is still easily in the top 5 found footage horror films I’ve ever seen.