Director John Erick Dowdle (‘Quarantine’, ‘Devil’) sets out with another lost footage horror flick with ‘As Above, So Below’ to farewell the summer season in films.
The film, as expected for an end of August release, carries some interesting horror themes and ideas to hook the audience into the story but eventually abandons them for an unsatisfying rushed-out delivery at the end. The story follows a straight forward idea, a group of people led by an archaeologist goes into the catacombs beneath Paris to find an ancient stone. Therein, they face unknown visions, and evil forces all steered around with the use of sounds, wobbly camera shots, and ominous figures.
‘As Above, So Below’ starts off with a good background story that comes from ancient Alchemy, and basic horror ideas that could substantially work. But Dowdle and company quickly compare the explorers’ crusade to something out of an Indiana Jones flick – whether the shift in genre is meant to entertain or not – that quickly becomes a distraction to the foundation and setup of the story. For instance, the heroin of the film runs back into the labyrinth to undo everyone’s actions – which takes her about five minutes to do. Mind you, everyone – including the audience – had already spent 45 minutes of the film through the same path.
Not all is lost in the film. There are some good special effects such as the burning car in the enclosed space which will fulfil the shock value. Some camera moves are fairly decent, and from time to time it adds to the ‘real’ footage idea. The latter something to debate as well, because a ‘lost footage’ theme usually means all characters, including the hero, don’t live to talk about the odyssey and a third party come across it – which is not the case on the film.
‘As Above, So Below’ is a trivial horror flick that uses strong philosophies of the genre but lacks a strong delivery and performance of the subthemes throughout. Instead of an ideology, the filmmakers hurry to an unimaginative end. Horrific not so much, and the audience will likely agree.