As Above, So Below – Abandon Hope – Review

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Perdita Weeks stars as Scarlett – some sort of sexy young female version of Indiana Jones who has spent her life trying to find The Philosopher’s Stone.  For those of you who don’t know (or only heard about it from Harry Potter), The Philosopher’s Stone is an ancient legendary alchemical substance thought to turn other metals into gold, which would make the owner quite rich and powerful.  It might also be some sort of key to immortality, yadda, yadda, yadda.

Yet, Scarlett is not in this for the money.  She wants to prove her father, who also sought the stone (and who is not played by Sean Connery), was not crazy for believing he was on the right track to find it when tragedy struck.

Based on new evidence she dramatically has discovered, Scarlett believes the stone to be hidden in an uncharted and unknown section of the Paris Catacombs – a vast underground network of tunnels containing the remains of six million unlucky souls.  To get to the right location, our heroine will need a team that knows the Catacombs, and a former friend (or possibly more), George (Ben Feldman), who knows how to translate the various clues (and do stuff he doesn’t want to do when he makes googly eyes at Scarlett).

And, because this is a movie that doesn’t have one original idea in it, the adventure is being captured on video by a documentarian, Benji (Edwin Hodge).

As they make their way further into the lowly depths of the earth, this group of intrepid travelers encounters all sorts of strange characters, and what the writers were hoping would be spooky situations.

Can they find The Philosopher’s Stone?

Who will live?

Who will die?

Are you still reading?

“Abandon hope all ye who enter here,” is what should be written above the entrance to your local Cineplex showing this movie.

Forget about logic.

Forget about scary situations.

Forget about being entertained.

Forget buying a ticket.

Writer Drew Dowdle and writer/director John Erick Dowdle have a decent idea, which is poorly executed.  Instead of being frightening, thrilling and creepy, As Above, So Below becomes yet another in a long, tired, overexposed line of failed and flawed Found Footage movies.

The audience is led to believe each character is facing some dark and horrible secret about their past as each one confronts danger and possible death, but The Dowdles don’t uniformly apply this to each person.  The selectivity of using this tactic with some characters, but not others, leads to a failure in logic and structure that dooms what could have been a cool premise.

We lose the rhyme and reason for why action is happening on the screen and what is happening to whom.  Some people are facing danger tied to some deep dark secret (that wasn’t all that well developed in the first place). Others just die because it’s time to wake up the audience.

Then, they fail to scare us.  John Erick Dowdle doesn’t build up the suspense and spookiness through the first act of the movie, so the few scares that pop up in the second and third acts of As Above, So Below are nothing more than sloppy and poorly conceived attempts at shock (which better translate into failed attempts to wake up the audience).  These are afterthoughts instead of being the keys to a well planned movie that ties together neatly and in a way that makes the audience feel it was clever.

As Above, So Below is a horribly missed opportunity full of stock characters and situations sprinkled with hollow shocks and scares.

0waffles_sml0 Waffles (Out of 4)

As Above, So Below is rated R for bloody violence/terror, and language throughout.   

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