“As Above, So Below” is a movie with an interesting premise and disappointingly cliché portrayal.
The movie is shot as a documentary about an aspiring archeologist who must travel through the catacombs of Paris, France to find what her deceased father claimed to be the Philosopher’s Stone.
The highly illogical set-up follows the archeologist, Scarlett, played by Perdita Weeks, finding a band of out-laws to take her through the catacombs, which are heavily guarded by police.
For some unexplained reason, these kids seem to know their way through the half dissembled and confusing maze of bones, only to find in order to get to the stone, they must travel through the infamous tunnel that, dare I say, no one has ever come out of.
The movie hopes to induce terror through creepy faces and halfway-explained situations.
The basis of hell is that you have to face your worst fears and trials in life.
However, writer and director John Erick Dowdle doesn’t set up any character development until the last minute and leaves the characters feeling as fake and shallow as their respective actor’s acting.
There’s no foreshadowing or emotional buildup that leads you to assume the characters will have to face these tragedies until they are placed right in front of them.
Not only are these supposedly touching scenes placed at the last minute, they also seem rushed.
Granted, if I was trying to make my way out of a hell-like scenario, I would be rushing as well.
However, I am sure if I saw my father hanging from a noose, I would have a mental breakdown lasting a little more than 30 seconds.
At one point, as seen in the trailer, the out-law group leader is carried into a car that is lit on fire by who is assumed to be either his brother or friend.
This scene almost seems random and the rest of the characters continue through the maze with little emotional response to what they have just witnessed after it happens.
Not only has their friend died, but now they are also lacking a leader.
The only foreshadowing Dowdle uses is through his pathetic attempt at horror.
Throughout the beginning of the movie, there are several instances where you see a creepy woman’s face that seems to have no relevance to the movie as a whole.
Why Dowdle would incorporate her specifically, other than to spark a supposed creepy tone, is confusing.
She shows up when Scarlett meets with the out-law leader and then later in the documentary’s background.
The viewer is left wondering when she will return and why she is outside the catacombs in the first place.
It is never explained why she, or many of the other people and creatures in Dowdle’s “hell,” are there.
If you are looking for a movie that can keep a coherent storyline, induce fear and convey emotion, this is not the movie for you.
“As Above, So Below” is just as bad as its doge meme title makes you think it will be.
“As Above, So Below” is rated R for bloody violence, terror and language and is playing at the Cinemark Theater in Conway.