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Movie Breakdown: As Above, So Below (Noah)

August 29, 2014

Film

People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

You know, even though this is a found footage horror film that uses the terror of claustrophobia to once again try and scare the bejeezus out of me, it’s also a horror film, and no matter how strikingly bad it might be, I always love a horror film.

The Reality:

As Above, So Below is a preposterous Disneyland ride. If you’ve ever attended a local radio station’s Halloween Haunted House, then you’ve pretty much seen As Above, So Below, but instead of walking around with your stupid drunken friends, you’re walking around with a bunch of other people who, most definitely, are just as stupid, but they brought a camera and between screaming loudly they keep laying on some really thick bullshit about evil, or something. That said, as dumb as As Above, So Below is, and it is really, really, really dumb, it’s still has that haunted house shtick and the Dowdle Brothers manage to milk it for everything it’s worth. The story – part horror, part Indiana Jones, part first-person shooter – revolves around Scarlett (Perdita Weeks), a youthful archaeologist on the quest to find the Philosopher’s Stone that evaded her father, eventually driving him to his death. After a harrowing and nauseating flight through a series of undercover caves in Iran, Scarlet is lead to the Catacombs of Paris where the Philosopher’s Stone supposedly lives. Along the way she picks up a group of French street-rats (one of which, I swear to God, never says a single word the entire film), an ex-boyfriend/Aramaic scholar (Ben Feldman – Ginsberg!) and her erstwhile cameraman Benji (Edwin Hodge). I’m not spoiling anything here, but almost as soon as they get down into the Catacombs, shit starts going real, real bad, and the rest of the movie is an extended flight sequence where the group, a smaller and smaller group, tries to escape. Again, not a great movie, the characters are about as well defined as a pile of rotting, French bones, and their only traits are pinned on them just to give some meaning to events that happen at the end. There’s bad guys that appear and disappear without meaning or cause. Nothing is really that believable in the film – the emotions, the set, the characters in any way, shape or form – and it gives this sort of artifice that gives the stark impression that you are watching people go through a Disneyland ride. Really, really stupid people going through a Disneyland ride. I can’t think of a single decision made in this film that, if I was a part of this group, I would, in any way support. Again, the Dowdle Brothers aren’t trying to make films that stretch your cerebral capacities, they’re just trying to make some, fun, scary horror flicks, and for the most part, this one succeeds at that.

The Lesson:

How come whenever I watch one bad horror film, I only want to watch bad horror films?

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