“As Above, So Below” Film Review

“As Above, So Below” kicks off the 2014 horror season, with some archaeology Indiana Jones would have been proud of.

No, I’m not countingThe Purge: Anarchy.” If that is a horror movie then Schindler’s List is a rom-com.

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This season has some interesting titles lined up for us, including Horns,” The Green Inferno,” (which I am particularly excited for)Honeymoon,” “Tusk,” “The Pyramid and, probably the most anticipated horror movie of the year, Annabelle.” These are our big name horror movies of the year, and as per usual there are the countless independent horror films currently being played at the Venice Film Festival.

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“As Above, So Below” premiered on Aug. 28 (Photo courtesy of “As Above, So Below”)

“As Above, So Below,” set in Paris, was directed by brothers John Erick Dowdle and Drew Dowdle for a dirt cheap budget of $5 million. The film stars Perdita Weeks, a relatively unknown but absolutely stunning British period-piece actress, and Ben Feldman, who we know from “Cloverfield” and “Friday the 13th.”

From the very beginning, this film gives a complete Raiders of the Lost Ark vibe in an amazing found footage style. It also comes complete with sweet archaeology, surrounding political unrest, amazing locations, a brave protagonist whose only goal is to preserve truth, an unknown father who went crazy trying to solve a mystery and, of course, buried treasure.

Perdita gives a fantastic performance as the lead actress, and I’m not just saying that because of her cool accent. She gives us a character we never really seem to see in horror: a woman who faces her fears, gets the job done and, most importantly, doesn’t scream like a little girl.

While Perdita steals the show, the supporting cast is surprisingly not unnecessary. Each character is given an ample snippet of back story, enough to connect them to the main theme, (as above, so below, good and evil, external vs internal) but not enough to distract us from the events of the film.

In fact, there is hardly any unimportant dialogue in the film. There is the occasional silly comment like “Are we gonna die” or “Is that supposed to happen,” but there is a healthy amount of super-intelligent nerd-speak between the two leads, which, while not entirely discernible, lets the audience know they can trust the main characters to be smart enough to know what they’re doing. It was reminiscent of The Da Vinci Code and National Treasure.”

Now as great as exploring caves is, this is a horror movie. The set up takes a good 45 minutes, but is worth it. About halfway through the film, I reached that point where the suspense and fear takes over, so much that I was cringing in my seat, and it did not stop until the end credits. Seriously. The location almost accomplishes this by itself, a real catacomb filled with 6 million human skeletons underneath the streets of Paris.

The amazing thing about this film is, besides the initial shots above ground and one or two scenes later in the film, the entire movie was shot underground, in the real catacombs in Paris. Creepy.

And as if dark, claustrophobia-inducing mass graves aren’t enough, the characters have to deal with a very real, evil and terrifying force that lies below...

Collegian A&E Writer Morgan Smith can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com and on Twitter @MDSFilms.

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