As above, so below

A found-footage approach makes it possible for camera & crew to lớn exploit the Paris catacombs, while sacrificing cinematic thrills along the way.

You watching: As above, so below


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Beneath the streets of Paris lies a vast network of tunnels just waiting to lớn be exploited by an enterprising found-footage film crew. Imagine the excitement of the rolling-boulder opening scene in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” stretched lớn feature length, then subtract such vital ingredients as John Williams’ pulse-elevating score, Douglas Slocombe’s visceral cinematography & Harrison Ford’s wry charisma, và you get “As Above, So Below,” in which a Lara Croft-like heroine assembles a team of expendable “cataphiles” (as catacomb obsessives hotline themselves) khổng lồ locate the Philosopher’s Stone. It all makes for clumsy-fun escapism, not bad as end-of-summer chillers go, but small-time compared withother Legendary releases.


Returning khổng lồ the faux-doc format they helped innovate insuch pics as “The Poughkeepsie Tapes” and “Quarantine,” the Dowdle brothers, John Erick (who directs) and Drew (his fellow producer), are by now experts atcreating suspense within narrow confines. Their previousfeature, “Devil,” took place almost entirely in an elevator, and considering all the challenges that the Paris catacombs would pose a traditional camera team —low ceilings, narrow passages và waist-deep water — they’ve managed to generate some genuine tension without straying too far from the realm of the real.


That means nearly all the thrills come either from things that could actually happen (claustrophobia, cave-ins và encounters with thevarious weirdos you might expect lớn meet underground) or directly from the characters (who allhave deaths of friends or family members unresolved in their pasts) —the idea being that venturing down certain corridors of the catacombs is a bit like spelunking in one’s own subconscious. Here, in a calculated yet nevertheless welcome twist on traditional gender roles, it’s a young woman who emerges as the fearless và resourceful leader of the expedition, recruiting a French ruffian named Papillon (Francois Civil) and two of his grungy sidekicks, Souxie (Marion Lambert) and Zed (Ali Marhyar), as guides.

Branching out from a resume consisting mostly of small roles in upscale literary projects, British actress Perdita Weeks plays Scarlet, a woman who will stop at nothing khổng lồ get lớn the “truth.” Fluent in six languages và a blaông chồng belt in karate, this readymade heroine probably came preloaded with the Dowdles’ screenwriting software, taking over her alchemy-expert dad’s tìm kiếm for the Philosopher’s Stone after his suicide. Scarlet doesn’t have many distinguishing characteristics beyond that: no bullwhip, no fear of snakes, just a penchant for spouting exposition & a lingering crush on sometime-sidekiông chồng George (“Mad Men’s” Ben Feldman), whose hobby involves breaking inkhổng lồ places & fixing old monuments — which is basically the opposite of what this mission of crumbling walls, collapsing ceilings and breaking centuries-old artifacts entails.

Once Scarlet gets going, there’s nothing stopping her, whether it’s infiltrating booby-trapped caves in Iran of dousing museum treasures with flammable compounds in tìm kiếm of clues, & Elliot Greenberg’s jump-cutty editing style keeps the adventure going at roughly the rate of Scarlet’s intellect — which makes her wild “Da Vinci Code” ramblings sound more impressive sầu than they actually are, in much the way the pic’s hermeticist title suggests a dimension that informs little more than murals glimpsed along the way. It’s a shame the filmdoesn’t give the audience time to lớn try solving some of the puzzles, rather than simply watching her và George go at it, though the pacing eliminates any room to question her split-second impulses.


As the implied dangers start khổng lồ become real, however, the movie feels as though it’s moving too fast, abandoning fallen team members with no time to mourn (don’t be surprised if your favorite characters don’t make it) and plunging forever forward, even when signs —“Abandon hope all ye who enter here” —Điện thoại tư vấn for a modicum of caution. Cheating the geography, the Dowdlescreate the illusion that, as a feral character called “the Mole” (Cosme Castro) puts it, “the only way out is down,” despite the fact that they’rebasically taking us in circles around the same locations. By the end, they wantto give the impression that the entire world has been inverted & the group is now climbing upside-down through places they’ve already passed. However, since the real tunnels were used more than soundstages, the gimmick never quite works.

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Still, the filmmakersmanage lớn capture the surreal atmosphere of wandering rogue beneath the streets of Paris, where the usual clues humans use khổng lồ get their bearings (say, locating the Eiffel Tower on the horizon) or judge the time of day (via the position of the sun) are denied, making for a truly disorienting experience. At the same time, the film features an enhanced soundtraông chồng, which compensates for a camera that goes all wobbly whenever anything truly exciting should be happening onscreen, tickling our imagination with the sounds of cracking walls, eerie whispers and distant chants.

The sixth thành viên of Scarlet’s buổi tiệc ngọt is her faithful documentarian, Benji (Edwin Hodge), who rigs each of their helmets with HD cams và then spends the rest of his time in a state of panic. Ideally, these camera placements (just above the eyes) would contribute lớn a relatively subjective sầu viewing experience, & the film does offer a rare chance to lớn see parts of the catacombs not open lớn the public, though the visuals feel slapdash instead of cinematic —& the film suffers for it, hiding ghostly figures on the edge of the frame instead of taking full advantage of the environment, the way “The Descent” or “Mimic” approached dark & spooky spaces.

When Scarlet finally does uncover the solution to the Philosopher’s Stone — this legkết thúc of alchemy rumored to possess healing powers & the ability khổng lồ turn ordinary objects into lớn gold — the final reveal is unspeakably corny, suggesting that an hour of therapy might have delivered the same advice. For those hoping to lớn find some truly disturbing secrets buried for generations beneath the surface, traông chồng down Gary Sherman’s 1972 “Death Line” (aka “Raw Meat”) instead.


Film Review: ‘As Above, So Below’

Reviewed at UGC Cine Cite Les Halles, Paris, Aug. 20, năm trước. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 93 MIN.

Production:A Universal release presented with Legendary Pictures of a Legendary Pictures/Brothers Dowdle production. Produced by Thomas Tull, Jon Jashni, Drew Dowdle, Patriông xã Aiello. Executive producer, Alex Hedlund. Co-producers, John Bernard, Dan Chutía, Jamie Dixon.

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Crew:Directed by John Eriông xã Dowdle. Screenplay, John Eriông chồng Dowdle, Drew Dowdle. Camera (color, HD), Leo Hinstin; editor, Elliot Greenberg; music, Keefus Ciancia; production designer, Louise Marzaroli; art director, Pascal Le Guellec; mix decorator, Eric Viellerobe; costume designer, Annie Bloom; sound (Dolby Digital/SDDS/Datasat), Michel Kharat; supervising sound designer, Karen Triest; supervising sound editor, Kelly Oxford; re-recording mixers, Joe Barnett, Beau Borders; visual effects supervisor, Jamie Dixon; visual effects producer, Michelle Eisenreich; visual effects, Hammerhead Prods.; special effects supervisor, Philippe Hubin; special effects coordinator, Jean-Christophe Magnaud; assistant director, William Pruss; casting, Sarah Halley Finn, Tamara Hunter, Juliette Menager.With:Perdita Weeks, Ben Feldman, Edwin Hodge, Francois Civil, Marion Lambert, Ali Marhyar, Cosme Castro, Hamidreza Javdan. (English, French dialogue) Music By:

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