“As Above, So Below” review: Interesting premise but ultimately fails in execution

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One would think: “how on Earth has there yet to be a horror movie that takes place in the Parisian catacombs?” Or at least a major release, if you count the eponymous named “Catacombs” starring Pink. But alas, in 2014, we receive that movie. The only thing is, it’s not that good.

Lara Croft wannabe Scarlet Marlowe, played by the cool and confident, relatively unknown, Perdita Weeks, looks to justify her late father’s work in finding the mythical Philosopher’s Stone. This ancient alchemical stone is said to be able to turn metals into gold (and apparently heal and revive people).

Her quest takes her deep into the catacombs located under the City of Lights, Paris. But going into the catacombs that are outside tour areas is illegal, so she employs urban explorers Papillon (Francois Civil), Souxie (Marion Lambert) and Zed (Ali Marhyar). She is also joined by her cameraman Benji (Edwin Hodge) and former flame George, played Mad Men’s Ben Feldman.

Their journey takes increasingly dangerous twists and turns, seemingly going deeper into the catacombs. But deeper they get, the more convoluted the story gets, and the potential that the catacombs present wanes as well.

The plot about a mythical stone and demonic elements overshadow the catacombs. Here is a movie that takes place in miles and miles, stories and stories of unmapped, dark, claustrophobia inducing maze-like tunnels yet they add a magical element to the story. The movie could very well simply be about a group of people looking to explore the catacombs and in the way get lost. The psychological damage and their descent into madness is more believable than some magic rock. It’s as if the movie tries to mash and start a film that combines Lara Croft/Tomb Raider and the many horror movies concerning demons, instead of letting its captivating setting work itself organically. Take it as artificial scares.

And when it comes to the horror elements, the movie is not bad. But with all the hype leading up to the release, its more of a letdown. “So Below” makes you uncomfortable. Horror movies are supposed to make you uncomfortable and squirm in your seat. But the movie fails to launch.

Cliches are abound; darkness, creepy, hooded figures, someone standing still facing a corner. But ultimately, the “jump-in-your-seats” scare are far and few in between. Again, this movie will make you squirm but rarely more.

The found footage genre is slowly winding down to cliches. With all the hype surrounding “So Below,” it seems like the genre has seen its last attempt at redefining it. “So Below” is okay, just not passable for the attention it got. It’s creepy, but, again, fails to launch.