Hey gang, who’s up for some tomb raiding?
Scarlett (Perdita Weeks) is a beautiful and fearless archaeologist searching for the fabled Philosopher’s Stone, an alchemical instrument of great power, stashed amongst the bone-strewn catacombs beneath Paris.
Too bad the road to riches leads perilously close to the gates of Hell. Next time, stay with the tour, lady!
Written and directed by John Erick Dowdle, As Above, So Below is part Blair Witch Project with a splash of Indiana Jones, combining found-footage of claustrophobic exploration with a deadly descent into a haunted underworld from which escape seems a faint possibility.
The pace spasms between breakneck thrills, sudden horrifying obstacles, and episodes of hieroglyphic dexterity, as Scarlett shepherd’s her team through a booby trapped limbo where fragments of their collective past keep biting them on the ass.
The found-footage aspect of the production is handled efficiently, not calling undue attention to itself, making the periodic explosions of paranormal terror and graphic violence even more trauma inducing.
The words of a minor character become the company mantra: “The only way out is down.”
Perdita Weeks is a capable and headstrong heroine, energizing Scarlett with proficiency as well as a complicated set of emotions, as she tries to finish the life’s work that drove her father to suicide.
Not only that, but she might be developing serious feelings for her linguist friend, George (Ben Feldman).
My critic’s cap is off to Dowdle, who fuses furious frights and exhilarating mayhem in one satisfying adventure. It’s a dark, intense quest, but ultimately we’re the better for having seen it through.
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