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As Above, So Below


Stars: Perdita Weeks, Ben Feldman, Edwin Hodge, Francois Civil, Marion Lambert, Ali Marhyar, Cosme Castro

Director: John Erick Dowdle

The Blair Witch Project has a lot to answer for since it created the now increasingly over-used cliché of ‘found footage’, spawning dozens of good, bad and truly awful movies, the majority of them horror films.

So here we go again, with yet another shocker whose action takes place in front of (usually swaying) hand-held cameras. Horror movies at their best might well benefit from inducing nausea and dizziness: here too much hand-held cinematography worked against an already flabby storyline. I felt queasy almost from the start from the blend of over-swaying cinematography and less than compelling screenplay (writer-producer Drew Dowdle) and the film provided little to cure me.

“Brilliant archaeologist” Perdita Weeks, adequate enough under the circumstances, is obsessed with tracking down the legendary Flamel’s Philosopher’s Stone which, allegedly, can turn metal into pure gold and grant eternal life. The latter is hardly likely to be achieved by the eminently forgettable As Above, So Below.

Weeks reckons the Stone can be found in the catacombs below Paris and, with old flame Ben Feldman, amateur cinematographer Edwin Hodge, ‘guide’ Francois Civil, Marion Lambert and Ali Marhyar, heads below the streets of Paris where they face haunting “by their personal demons” and a series of shocks and not-that-surprising horrific events.

Even competent location cinematography (Leo Hinstin) fails to add impact.

“This quest has surpassed madness”, says one character early on, before the adventures have faced growing claustrophobia, things that go bump on the screen and a long dead crusader who looks pretty good after 700 years.

Would that the film had been as good.

Alan Frank

USA 2014. UK Distributor: Universal. Colour.
93 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 3.

Review date: 28 Aug 2014