As you’ll know by now I love found footage horror. Not because I think it’s the height of sophistication but because when it’s done well it’s a really immersive experience. Sure there are plenty of terrible found footage films but I’m always open to them.
Directed by John Erick Dowdle the man responsible for Devil and REC remake Quarantine, As Above So Below is equal parts an Indiana Jones archaeological puzzle solving adventure and The Decent with a smattering of Blair Witch creepiness.
Perdita Weeks is great as Scarlett the woman leading the expedition below the catacombs of Paris. She is smart, capable and fearless and her quest to find The Philosophers Stone, the search for which drive her father insane, keeps driving the film forward. While it’s perfectly likely despite Scarlett’s young age, she would have extensive knowledge of her chosen field but at times she spouts knowledge that would put an 80 year old scholar to shame and it comes off as just a little forced. If only they gave the audience time to work out some for the puzzles for themselves without the blast of information from Scarlett this film would be a lot more enjoyable.
Among her cohorts is reluctant ex-boyfriend George (Ben Feldman) who Scarlett left in Turkey during her quest for The Philosopher’s Stone and who has a serious cave phobia. Along with them is cameraman Benji and three French catacombe guides. Each of the characters has a head mounted camera to film the expedition, which is great but ultimately leads to the usual complaint when it comes to found footage; how did the footage get out?
Being somewhat claustrophobic meant that there are more than a few moments that made me very uncomfortable and there are some good scares but there are also some moments where if you haven’t been paying close attention you’ll have no idea why some characters meet the demise they do. I think this is probably the films biggest problem, the pacing is off, so your mind starts to wander and you end up missing something brief but important.
The ending feels rushed but it’s still worth a watch because despite some problems it’s one of the better found footage horror films of late. If small places freak you out – all the better!
As Above So Below will available to buy on DVD on the 26th of December.