As Above, So Below (film)
|As Above, So Below|
|Directed by||John Erick Dowdle|
|Edited by||Elliot Greenberg|
|Music by||Keefus Ciancia|
Brothers Dowdle Productions
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Box office||$41.9 million|
As Above, So Below is a 2014 American horror film written and directed by John Erick Dowdle and co-written by his brother Drew. It is presented as found footage of a documentary crew's experience exploring the Catacombs of Paris and was loosely based on the seven layers of Hell. The film was produced by Legendary Pictures and distributed by Universal Pictures, making it the first film in Legendary's deal with Universal. The film was released on August 29, 2014, and stars Perdita Weeks, Ben Feldman, Edwin Hodge, François Civil, Marion Lambert, and Ali Marhyar. The film received generally negative reviews from critics, but grossed $41 million against its $5 million budget.
Scarlett Marlowe, a young alchemy scholar, continues her dead father's work searching for the philosopher's stone, a legendary alchemical substance capable of turning base metals into gold or silver and grant eternal life, discovered by Nicolas Flamel. She finds the "Rose Key" in a cave in Iran, where she sees a hanged man before which she narrowly escapes as it collapses. She travels to Paris, where she enlists the help of George, her former lover. Along with Benji the cameraman, they translate Flamel's headstone, which contains a riddle that leads them 370 feet underneath the streets of Paris. She enlists the help of a guide called Papillon, his girlfriend Souxie, and friend Zed to search the Catacombs of Paris at a party. A woman is staring at Benji during the party. George refuses to go but is driven into the caves with the group when a policeman spots them and tackles Papillon. After crawling through a narrow tunnel which collapses, they encounter female cultists who are singing and appear possessed, including the same woman from the party who stares at Benji again. They find themselves in a blocked tunnel that Papillion is reluctant to breach, as the only people who have gone through, including Pap's friend La Taupe (The Mole), have never been seen again. The group attempts to take a different path, where Benji gets stuck briefly. Somehow, they loop back around to where they were before, and they are forced to go through the tunnel.
After venturing deeper into the catacombs, they encounter La Taupe, who agrees to guide them out and informs them the only way out is down. They eventually find a tomb with a preserved Templar Knight, a mound of treasure, and the Flamel Stone. Removing the stone, Scarlett realizes too late that the treasure is a trap, and the room collapses. La Taupe is lost under the rubble and is left behind by the group.
With the Flamel Stone, Scarlett magically heals Siouxie's arm, which was badly cut in the collapse. They find a drawing of a door on the ceiling along with a Gnostic Star of David, symbolizing "As above, so below", which reveals a door hidden in the floor. Going through the opening, they find a tunnel marked with the phrase "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here" in Greek, identical to the entrance to Hell in Dante's Inferno.
Passing through, they find a dark, upside down reflection of the room they left, including a catatonic La Taupe, who kills Souxie by smashing her head into the ground. He disappears, and they realize they must continue and go deeper to escape. Along the way, Benji the cameraman is pushed to his death down a hole by the lead female cultist, who was staring at him at the party. They encounter a burning car with Papillon's brother sitting inside, who pulls him in the car and sinks into the floor. They fail to pull Pap out of the ground, and he suffocates. As they continue, they see apparitions of terrifying spirits and demons. Statues in the wall come to life, and one violently attacks George, slicing into his throat. After trying to drag him further, George murmurs, "Vitriol", another riddle from earlier, and Scarlett realizes the Flamel stone itself is yet another trap. Only by returning it will she find the real stone.
As she races back to the crypt, she sees the same man who hanged himself as she saw in Iran, and recognizes him as her father. After nearly being drowned in a trench of blood by an unseen force, she returns to the crypt and finds a polished mirror, which is when she realizes she has the magical abilities of the stone. She returns to George, kissing him to heal him. She explains they must confront their torments, as this place provides an alternate form of reality to make them realize their wrongdoings. They find and jump down a deep hole. They first believe there is no logical way of surviving the fall, but Scarlett insists they will live if they admit their faults. At the bottom, they see the hole is no longer there. Eventually, Scarlett, George, and Zed find a manhole on the floor, which when pushed down delivers them right side up onto the surface. Scarlett and George hold each other while Zed walks away, finally safe. In an ending log, an interview with Scarlett is played, in which she says she never sought treasure, only the truth.
- Perdita Weeks as Scarlett Marlowe, a very accomplished scholar in search of the philosopher's stone. She is clever but reckless in her pursuit for the truth
- Ben Feldman as George, Scarlett's ex, and an Aramaic translator with a hobby for breaking into old buildings to repair things
- Edwin Hodge as Benji, Scarlett's cameraman and tech specialist
- François Civil as Papillon, their guide through the catacombs of Paris
- Marion Lambert as Souxie, Papillon's girlfriend
- Ali Marhyar as Zed, Papillon's friend
- Pablo Nicomedes as La Taupe, Papillon's friend who lived in the Paris catacombs for five years until his disappearance down a disused tunnel
- Hamidreza Javdan as Reza
- Roger Van Hool as Scarlett's father, once a scholar in pursuit of the philosopher's stone, now deceased
- Samuel Aouizerate as Danny, George's younger brother who drowned when George was still a child
- Kaya Blocksage as The Curator
With permission from the French authorities the film was shot in the real catacombs of Paris. There was very little use of props, as the actors had to use the environment around them. Production in the actual catacombs was difficult for the cast and especially the crew as there was no electricity or cell phone service in the centuries-old tunnels. As Ben Feldman suffered from claustrophobia, he had to keep taking breaks to cope.
Marketing and distribution
The first trailer of the film was revealed on April 24, 2014. YouTuber PewDiePie and his wife Marzia Bisognin promoted the film by embarking on a quest into the catacombs, where they would be scared in a variety of ways.
As Above, So Below was released on DVD and Blu-ray on December 2, 2014.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 26% based on 77 reviews, and an average rating of 4.42/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "After an intriguing setup that threatens to claw its way out of found-footage overkill, As Above, So Below plummets into clichéd mediocrity." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 38 out of 100 based on 23 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews." Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "C–" on an A+ to F scale.
Peter Debruge gave the film a mixed review in Variety, writing, "It all makes for clumsy-fun escapism, not bad as end-of-summer chillers go, but small-time compared with other Legendary releases." Debruge also called the ending "unspeakably corny." Kyle Anderson's review in Entertainment Weekly stated, "As Above has some genuine scares. The stakes begin as gut-wrenchingly real with the team feeling disoriented hundreds of meters beneath the streets, but the film gets downright silly once the caverns become malevolently sentient." Bruce Demara wrote in The Toronto Star, "As Above, So Below has some good scares and a decent cast. But it's yet another found footage thriller, so jittery camera sequences may induce nausea." Peter Bradshaw stated in The Guardian, "There are some interestingly contrived moments of claustrophobia and surreal lunacy, but this clichéd and slightly hand-me-down script neither scares nor amuses very satisfyingly." Drew Hunt expressed similar sentiments in The Chicago Reader, writing "An intriguing and intensely creepy premise is squandered on this rudimentary found-footage horror film." Terry Staunton gave the film a mildly positive review in Radio Times, stating, "It's a perfectly serviceable addition to the 'found footage' genre of chillers from director/co-writer John Erick Dowdle (Devil), who puts cameras in each character's helmet, allowing quick cuts from one scene to another. But despite the claustrophobia of the setting, he never quite racks up enough tension for a full-on fright-fest." The entertainment oriented website JoBlo wrote, "Not the worst example of found footage by a long shot, and it moves a decent pace with a couple of good scares. However, this could have been a far more frightening feature if only it had expanded on its scary premise."
The film grossed $8.3 million its opening weekend, finishing in third place. It went on to gross $21.3 million in North America and $20.6 million in other territories, for a total gross of $41.9 million.
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