As Above/So Below
I don’t consider myself a hard skeptic, but I am a man who needs to see some structure in order to understand. No matter how much we do our homework and study everything, we will probably never answer the biggest questions like “what was there before the universe?” or “Is there a point in having a moral compass” or even, “Are all bad people punished?”. I can only answer with the following, “I don’t know”. I have my beliefs set in stone and your only going to find some answer within your own faith. I can see that these questions are never going to satisfy everyone, as there are those that want hard concrete answers.
Let’s say that someone announced to the world that they have found a porthole to the heavens. I think that everyone would be curious, but would you want to enter it? Wouldn’t that go against the definition of a “belief”? Are we not supposed to wait until god decides that our time is up before we’re given passage to a new world? To the skeptics that would say yes to immediate entry, I say that when you are not ready to accept the unorthodox without proof, then the answers will not come. The consequence of a too curious doctor comes to her in As Above/So Below.
What we have is another found footage style movie and yes it is a horror movie. But this one is different as there is actually a treasure-hunting plot to go with the scary imagery.
We are introduced to young woman named Scarlett who has just risked her life into entering Iran in order to find a piece of evidence that could lead her to the philosopher’s stone. This and the name Nicholas Flamel should ring a bell to Harry Potter fans everywhere. I bet you didn’t know that he was a real person. As Above/So Below tells us that he was an alchemist and his magic was real.
What Scarlett finds is in Arabic and is translated by a friend named George. He says that the stone is hundreds of feet below Paris, France. She’s led through the catacombs on a tour where she is pointed out the best place to start should she want to continue. She meets with a French urban exploring crew that helps her through the dark tombs, only to step into the gates of Hell where her faith is put to the test.
As Above/So Below takes the already scary idea of accidentally walking into hell and really giving it unnerving life. This is a very atmospheric story as much of it is spent walking through these dark places, hoping that daylight will be found somewhere. There are creatures afoot, but they feel just right for this kind of story, never giving us CGI imagery or cheap devil imagery. Any movie that can make the audience I was sitting with scream in unison, it’s doing something right. At this point it has met the rules of crafting a horror movie, but is it good?
I can say that I was not expecting this to have a treasure-hunting story as it is not present in the previews. I would be fine with this if it went together evenly, but it often doesn’t. The half that wants to be an adventure movie comes off as more boring then anything. It has to do with the fact that the casting here is passable at best. The best player here is the unknown Perdita Weeks as Scarlett who can balance beauty and brains.
I’ll give this three philosopher stones out of five. I liked this better then The Devil Inside and Earth to Echo, but there isn’t too much that will make this stand as a testament to the found footage style. At best, As Above/So Below is like walking into a haunted maze.