As Above, So Below
Film: As Above, So Below
Director: John Erick Dowdle
Writer: Drew Dowdle and John Erick Dowdle
Starring: Perdita Weeks, Ben Feldman and Edwin Hodge
This film begins with a woman on a bus. She states that she has crossed into Iran and that she is trying to seek into caves before they are destroyed, she is played by Perdita Weeks. She claims that if she gets caught, she could be stoned to death. She meets her contact who shows her a secret entrance to the tunnel. They go down and they have to hide as a patrol comes through. The tunnels are going to be destroyed in a matter of minutes. As the alarms go off, Weeks finds a wall with an inscription on it. She knows there is more to it and she destroys the wall. She ends up finding a bull with inscriptions all over it. She films them and makes a run for it.
On her way out, she sees a man hanging. Something of note is her contact stated that her father had went crazy looking for the same thing that she is and he wants her to stop before it is too late. She makes it out of the caves just in time as they are destroyed.
She is now in Paris. She fills us in on her background while she is interviewed by a man doing a documentary on her and what she is looking for, the Philosopher’s Stone. The man doing the filming is Edwin Hodge. The stone she is looking for is said to make anything into gold and give the owner the ability to live forever. Weeks’ father was looking for it as well, but he killed himself.
Weeks cannot read the inscriptions on the bull, as they are in a dead language she does not speak. She seeks out a friend who knows how to. She finds him inside of a church. He likes to break into places to fix things and he is played by Ben Feldman. Feldman is not happy with Weeks. The reason is the last time they were together; he ended up in a Turkish jail. He does not want to help her, but she does convince him. The inscriptions on the bull are said to be like a Rosetta stone, in that it will help to translate some alchemy words. With these and the tombstone the man who was said to have created the Philosopher’s Stone, they learn where he was really buried and where this stone should be. Weeks believes there is a hidden chamber in the catacombs under Paris.
They take a tour, but realize they cannot get to it from the main paths. While they are down there, a mysterious man tells them the name of someone that could help them find what they are looking for. They search him out and with offer of treasure, he agrees to help them, he is played by François Civil. Hodge also notices a strange woman in a white dress who acts and looks odd; she is played by Olivia Csiky Trnka.
We then meet Civil’s team before they go into the catacombs. He has a woman played by Marion Lambert and his friend Ali Marhyar. Hodge notices that Civil has a burn on his hand. He asks Marhyar about it, but he doesn’t give any information. Feldman states that he isn’t going to go down, but he walks with them to the entrance. A cop attacks Civil and that causes Feldman to come into the tunnel. Once below they find a weird cult that is singing, some of the women are topless, but they are led by Trnka.
The first issue they run into is that Civil wants to climb up a tunnel that is littered with human bones. Hodge doesn’t want to and Weeks’ wants to knock down a wall and go through another tunnel. Civil won’t go that way though. He states that it is cursed. We then learn about a friend he had who would never go that way and he knew all of the tunnels. This friend finally went that way and he hasn’t been seen since, this was two years ago.
They go Civil’s way and Hodge gets stuck, causing him to panic. They do get through, but end up in the tunnel that Civil didn’t want to be in. He is confused as to how that happened. Weird things begin to happen. They find a piano in the tunnel, which is considered to be due to the street collapsing into this tunnel at one time. The problem with it is that it has a broken key just like the one that Feldman had growing up. They also hear a phone ringing. Weeks finds and answers it, but the person doesn’t make sense. They also find Civil’s missing friend, he is played by Cosme Castro. He leads to where they are looking to go.
A few more puzzles and some other weird things happen until they find not only the burial chamber, but the gold that Civil was looking for. Weeks also finds a stone that she thinks to be the Philosopher’s Stone as well. The room collapses on them though and they cannot go back the way they came. They have to go deeper. The problem is tunnel states above it the same thing that the gates of Hell are supposed to.
Will they get out alive? Are they in hell? Did they find the Philosopher’s Stone? Is there a way out?
I have to say that I came in not knowing a whole lot about this film and I’m glad. I had no expectations which I think ended up with me liking this film even more. I liked that a film like this was filmed with handicam, even though it does make it hard to pick up everything going on, but it does add an extra layer of fear. This is especially true when we see something happen behind someone and they don’t notice it. I think the acting is good, the concept is great and the story goes along with it well. I really like the idea that Hell might be a place on Earth, which is really what they find. The scares were pretty good and even when they aren’t showing something scary; the idea of being stuck in the catacombs under Paris is pretty creepy in itself. This all adds up to making this film quite enjoyable.
I did have some issues. I have already touched on this one that it was at times hard to tell what is going on, using the handicam idea. I thought some of the things they see in Hell went unexplained and I wanted a little more out of it. Also the ending I had an issue with. I’m not sure what this film is trying to say, did they make it out? Is everything normal in the outside world or what? Had me a bit confused.
With that said though, this is a pretty solid film. The acting is good, the concept is great and the story with it holds up. The scariness of this film comes from the setting as well as some of the things they encounter. This film does come with its issues though. Handicam is great, but can also make it hard to keep up with what is going on. Some things were unexplained which left me wanting more and the ending was kind of confusing. All in all though, I would recommend giving this film a viewing, especially if this sounds interesting.
My Rating: 7 out of 10