MOVIE REVIEW: ‘As Above, So Below’ Is Just Another Found Footage Dud

Film: As Above, So Below
Starring: Perdita Weeks, Ben Feldman
Directed by: John Erick Dowdle

There is a moment fifteen or twenty minutes into As Above, So Below when it seems as if the film will finally be the long awaited title that raises the bar for found footage across the board. For a few fleeting minutes the characters are interesting, the story is thrilling, and there is a genuine sense of mystery to everything taking place on screen. Then, just as the catacombs begin to close in, things take a turn for the predictable.

The film follows Scarlett (Perdita Weeks), a female Indiana Jones set on finding the legendary Philosopher’s Stone. There is a lot of nonsense related to the stone and its powers, but all you really need to know is that the search for this potentially nonexistent rock has driven many people – including Scarlet’s father – insane. After she discovers a long sought after clue in Iran, Scarlet recruits a team of friends and strangers to explore the Catacombs in search of a secret passage. The group equips themselves with cameras, find a whole in the ground, and slowly begin to work their way through the world’s largest burial ground.

The initial passages in the catacombs are tense and chilling, but things quickly go from creepy to downright silly as the film attempts to set an ominous tone with seemingly no idea how to make it happen. It would be wrong of me to revel too much as many examples would double as spoilers, but I will say that every ‘strange occurrence’ in the film’s trailers has no setup or explanation whatsoever. Things just seem to happen, and no matter how unsettling they appear, or how lost the group becomes, no one ever fights to stop and turn around. They plunge further and further into the dark embrace of the catacombs with complete disregard for the half dozen red flags staring them in the face.

Once the action begins, which aside from a few jump scares is not until well over halfway through the film’s runtime, the inherent shakiness of the found footage genre ruins most climatic moments. It’s clear the filmmakers thought a POV perspective would make people feel as if they too were in the claustrophobic confines of the catacombs, but that is rarely the case. The panicked movements of the team make it impossible to appreciate any set or creature design, though very little of either exists in the first place.

The one advantage As Above, So Below has over other found footage hitting the VOD market this year is an above average cast. Weeks is a great lead, and Ben Feldman delivers a pitch perfect turn as her former lover turned helpful confidant. The two have strong chemistry from the moment Feldman’s character is introduced, but the dialogue is so heavy handed that there is no question as to what will develop between them as things progress. In fact, there is never really any question what will happen to any of the characters. The ones with a story make it longer, the ones with the most story make it the longest.

When all is said and done, As Above, So Below falls into the same traps that catch 99.98% of all found footage films. The best parts were all revealed in the trailers, and the stuff that wasn’t has been featured in countless other films. The premise shows promise, but it’s ultimately overshadowed by a lazy script and far too many attempts at cashing in on tired genre cliches that occur without explanation or justification. It could have been something great, but it’s not. It’s not even good.


Review written by James Shotwell

James Shotwell
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One Response to “MOVIE REVIEW: ‘As Above, So Below’ Is Just Another Found Footage Dud”

  1. Joel T. McGrath says:

    As Above So Below, is a fairly good the movie, now read the book it was based off of. LEGION OF DWELLERS: