Movie Review: 'As Above So Below'

Aug 27 2014, 09:30 IST
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First seen wearing a headscarf as she explores an off-limits cavern in Iran. First seen wearing a headscarf as she explores an off-limits cavern in Iran.
SummaryA gang of 20-something treasure hunters in the catacomb-hopping horror flick, ''As Above, So Below.''

''Abandon all hope, ye who enter here,'' is the inscription uncovered by a gang of 20-something treasure hunters in the catacomb-hopping horror flick, ''As Above, So Below.'' But the warning could easily apply to viewers checking out this rather hopeless mash-up of ''The Descent'' and ''(Rec),'' not to mention a dozen other found-footage movies that have clogged the screens over the last five years.

Hardly credible, even for a film claiming that the gates of hell lie a few hundred feet below Paris (if anywhere, they can be found in an overcrowded Metro car with no air conditioning), this low budget effort from director John Erick Dowdle and writer-producer-brother Drew Dowdle provides a few late scares after plenty of eye-rolling setup, with said scares due more to the heavy sound design than the action itself.

First seen wearing a headscarf as she explores an off-limits cavern in Iran, gorgeous tomb raider Scarlett (Perdita Weeks) claims to be a black belt in Capoeira while holding a doctorate from University College London. While she never uses her fighting skills and fails to cite Dante when coming across the above-mentioned quote (so much for the Ph.D.), she's still brazen enough to continue her dead father's lifelong quest to discover the legendary, eternal-life giving Philosopher's Stone. (Yes, the same one from Harry Potter, though this specimen happens to be found in France.)

Teaming up with an ex-pat clockmaker (Ben Feldman, aka Ginsberg on ''Mad Men'') who also speaks fluent Aramaic, and a guy named Benji (Edwin Hodge, ''The Purge'') who's been brought on as the requisite cameraman-who-keeps-shooting-at-all-costs, Scarlett uncovers a few clues that lead her to the Paris catacombs, which famously house the bones of six million dead, buried there up through the late 19th century. The three Americans then contract the services of three spelunking Frenchies (Francois Civil, Marion Lambert, Ali Marhyar) and together they head underground, the treasure hunt taking them further and further down as things inevitably get out of hand.

Cue up lots of stinging sound effects, eerie chanting, rats, a freaky dude named ''the Mole'' (Cosme Castro) who pops up now and then (and who, for no reason, everyone addresses in English), and a slew of lame paranormal gags whereby each character is forced to face their own inner demons. But the characters are all so brazenly one-dimensional, and Scarlett so ridiculous (she dresses for the expedition like she's headed

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