Director: John Erick Dowdle
Cast: Perdita Weeks, Ben Feldman, Edwin Hodge
Release Date: Now Available on Blu-ray Combo Pack & DVD
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 6.5/10
Disc Rating: 8/10
Miles of twisting catacombs lie beneath the streets of Paris, the eternal home to countless souls. When a team of explorers ventures into the uncharted maze of bones, they uncover the dark secret that lies within this city of the dead. A journey into madness and terror, As Above, So Below reaches deep into the human psyche to reveal the personal demons that come back to haunt us all. Written by John Erick Dowdle and Drew Dowdle (Quarantine, Devil) and directed by John Erick Dowdle, the psychological thriller is produced by Thomas Tull, Jon Jashni, Drew Dowdle and Patrick Aiello. Alex Hedlund serves as the executive producer.
‘As Above/So Below’ follows Scarlett, a young woman who is determined to follow in the footsteps of her father in search of the mysterious Philosopher’s Stone supposedly hidden by the famous Nicolas Flamel. After most discarded her father as nothing but crazy, Scarlett believes he was completely sane and that his ambitions were built on truth. In search of proving this and finding what her father never could, she and a team of friends and locals head into the famous catacombs below Paris in search of the treasure. As they make their way deeper within, the catacombs begin toying with them and they soon become lost and must fight their way through to find the truth as well as hopefully escape with their lives.
The film is directed (and co-written) by John Erick Dowdle (director of ‘The Poughkeepsie Tapes’, ‘Quarantine’ and ‘Devil’) and he does a solid job at the helm, keeping the film properly creepy and intriguing throughout. He co-wrote the film with his brother Drew Dowdle (who together also co-wrote ‘The Poughkeepsie Tapes’ and ‘Quarantine’) so you know these two siblings certainly have a feel for the horror genre to some degree already which shows in the tactics and elements used throughout. The cast includes a number of capable and fairly talented individuals, including Perdita Weeks (known largely for her work in British projects) along with Ben Feldman (whom many will likely recognize from his work in ‘Cloverfield’, ‘Friday The 13th (2009)’ and TV’s ‘Mad Men’ among other projects), Edwin Hodge (both ‘The Purge’ films and TV’s ‘Chicago Fire’) along with French actor François Civil (‘Frank’) and more, all of who deliver mostly capable and solid performances here.
While I can’t say it’s one of the best or most noteworthy horror films of the year, ‘As Above/So Below’ still definitely stands above a large majority of them and delivers a fairly creepy and fun experience overall. It definitely has its issues; largest among those being the choice to utilize the found footage format which is unfortunately continuing to be excessively used to this day, even well after its course should have run out. As a huge horror fan myself, I’m sorry to say that when I go into a film these days and discover it’s shot in the found footage style, I immediately become disappointed as the technique has become very worn and sadly, these days doesn’t deliver much in effect aside from dizzying the viewer and making things harder to follow with the consistent shaky camera movements. It also gets a little confusing in places and considering it doesn’t feel like it should be a complicated film in any way, causes a bit of a mood shift. Nonetheless it stands far and above a number of this year’s found footage and other genre releases and at least manages to find a reasonable excuse for the numerous cameras’s to be present. It starts off as more of a slow burn thriller, building its way to the point where things get creepy in the catacombs and the director/writer duo do an excellent job of maintaining those aspects quite sufficiently and building the tension without the story becoming too tedious or dull in the process. ‘As Above/So Below’ won’t find its way to my best of the year list, but for those just looking for a fun and creepy film to relax and enjoy one evening, it’s certainly well worth checking out.
The Blu-Ray release of ‘As Above/So Below’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation utilizing the film’s original 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks very solid overall. The colors, shapes and background elements all look clear and impressive; the ever-frequent dark scenes are always discernible and easy to follow, even with the consistent camera jumpiness as a result of the found footage filming style. No notable faults could be found within on my end and most folks should be more than satisfied with this high definition video presentation.
The Blu-Ray release features a lossless 7.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack which sounds fantastic and is easily the most impressive and notable part of this release. The film takes full advantage of all seven channels throughout, utilizing them along with the bass to their fullest potential and it definitely adds a lot to the overall experience of the film. Loud booms, along with creepy whooshes and other elements of the catacombs are distributed around the viewer quite consistently and the clarity of the track is impressive. It’s never afraid to hit full force with the bass and even with all the frenetic activity occurring at any given moment; it never results in any of the dialogue becoming inaudible at any point. This is a very solid 7.1 channel DTS-HD MA track that should deliver a great deal of fun for both audiophiles and the casual viewer alike.
The Blu-Ray release of ‘As Above/So Below’ includes only one small featurette as far as bonus content goes. ‘Inside As Above/So Below’ is a short featurette clocking in at around 3 minutes and joins the director, cast and more as they discuss the unique experience of filming within the catacombs.
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