As Above, So Below (2014)
Starring Perdita Weeks, Ben Feldman, Edwin Hodge, François Civil, Marion Lambert, and Ali Marhyar
Directed by John Erick Dowdle
Told in that ubiquitous found footage style, As Above, So Below tells the tale of Scarlett (Perdita Weeks), a scholar and adventurer who is continuing her deceased father's mission to find the infamous Philosopher's Stone, a substance that will purportedly turn any metal into gold and, in case that wasn't enough, grant immortal life. Scarlett isn't wanting the stone to turn into some megalomaniacal villain, rather she wants to study its origins and learn from its mystique. After a successful journey to Iran in which Scarlett uncovers some information concerning the Philosopher's Stone, she heads to France to what she believes is the location of the mystical stone. After some additional research, she determines that the stone has been placed in a secret passageway of the underground Parisian catacombs -- a place where the French government buried over six million bodies in the late 1700s. Scarlett gathers a team of folks together to help her explore the catacombs and uncover the stone -- but, as in most horror films, things start to go a bit awry.
Not only elevated by the "history" of the plot, As Above, So Below gets a lift from its main cast of six actors who all play their parts extremely well. The typical horror stereotypes are abandoned and the actors all get to play as smart scholars or enthusiastic adventurers. Perdita Weeks as Scarlett is more than captivating enough to carry the film and her character is given a surprising amount of strength, hutzpah, and intelligence. Granted, she's a bit too eager in the face of obvious danger, but you can't help but have to suspend your beliefs a little bit when you're watching something like this.
With a few jump scares, John Erick Dowdle does his job as a director, creating a few scenes that are certainly quite tense. Granted, once Dowdle (also the co-screenwriter) shifts the film to pure horror, things take a bit of a downturn, but the build-up to that point is amusingly intelligent enough that I was still willing to go along for the ride.
The RyMickey Rating: B