Monday, September 29, 2014

[Review] As Above, So Below

The found-footage horror concept has been fruitful for long enough to render its high points and its stinkers. As Above, So Below is one of the stinkers. While the tactic seems like a proper choice for this intriguing catacomb setting, the execution wears thin and the film descends into a shaky blur of subgenre clich├ęs. The bad ones.

After nearly 30 minutes of anthropology lessons, Scarlett (Perdita Weeks), the only non-annoying character, rounds up a group of explorers in order to film a documentary about her search for a treasure stone in the catacombs of Paris. With so many residing bones and demonic ritual practices over the years, the underground tunnels have manifested into a cursed and dangerous place.

Despite possessing a couple of eerie bits and sounds, any sense of creepy consistency is frustratingly obstructed by the camerawork. In conventional horror, sometimes the things we can't see are exactly what makes it effective, but in the case of this film, it's like "Yo, we actually can't see anything." Of course the claustrophobia, lack of lighting, and narrow sightlines come with the territory, but it seems like every time something that is intended to be abruptly frightening occurs, the camera points toward a dark wall and we just hear a bunch of people shouting, "Oh my God!" And furthermore, the constant shaky-cam devolves from realism to an inducer of motion sickness.

There's an instance in the film when a character asks, "What are we looking for?" And another character responds with, "I don't know." I felt the same way.


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