"Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here."
I’m a wimp when it comes to scary movies, especially when I’m watching them alone, so my base knowledge of horror films is a little sketchy. I’ve never even seen “The Blair Witch Project”, a movie that “As Above, So Below” seems to take a lot of cues from. So when a film does NOT scare me when that’s supposed to be its first purpose as a piece of art, that’s a problem.
This movie didn’t scare me largely in part because of the shaky-cam. I think this is a horror movie staple that needs to be retired. This film didn’t need shaky-cam, or even the context of a documentary being made to place the plot in. The convention slowed it down, and weirdly made the film seem campier. The actors were not acting in a realistically shot movie, but rather a melodrama. This would have been fine if the film was presented that way, but as it was, they never seemed like real people, even though the film was spending so much time on character building.
This segues perfectly into another major problem with the film: pacing. They don’t even get into the catacombs until at least half an hour into the movie, and they don’t have the time to be dicking around France when there’s a stone that grants eternal life around below the city. This set-up is necessary, I guess, because the idea that the Philosopher’s Stone could be in the Parisian catacombs at all is pretty out there, but I (presumably) didn’t buy tickets for this movie to watch the Alchemist’s version of National Treasure. I came to watch the reason why I should never, ever go into the Parisian catacombs.
And here’s where it falls flat: the movie doesn’t make any sense. The horror feels disconnected from the characters’ task at hand. Alchemists are not magicians; they’re closer to scientists, and the only reason they’re associated with anything creepy at all is because they were trying to create eternal life. This film is filled with scary imagery: men in dark cloaks, creatures emerging from the walls, fire, and creepy kids to name a few. But the images carry no weight because they’re not connected to anything. Or rather, they are…the film lets us in on its logic near the end, but by that point it’s too late. We’re already to leave the darkness and breathe fresh air.
Filmmakers: use your time wisely. The audience is only willing to give you so much attention before tuning out. Forever.
Some kind of French liquor, or Goldschlager. Alchemists are famous for trying to find the formula to create gold as well.
-Drink for scary imagery.
-Drink when someone quotes religious or mythological text.
- Drink when someone questions the plan.
-Drink when you literally can't tell what's going on.
-Drink when someone speaks in a different language.
This review was written by Hollis Beck (Krissy Pappau). "As Above, So Below" is produced by Legendary Pictures and distributed by Universal Pictures. The film is rated "R" with a runtime of 93 minutes.