Photo Credit The Star.com From left Perdita Weeks as Scarlett Marlowe and Right Ben Felderman as George in “As Above, So Below”
If Robert Langdon or Indiana jones could solve centuries long lost mysteries as quick as Scarlett Marlowe (Perdita Weeks) she’d not only have their jobs, but a full personal account of the horrors she went through looking for such artifacts as the Holy Grail or even the Ark of he Covenant. These however, are not the artifacts she is after, but rather the philosopher’s stone. Her father spent his entire life searching for the stone and Scarlett has that same desire to find it as well.
As any found footage horror film goes today it cannot happen if someone from behind the camera isn’t trying to benefit from it. Whether it is to record supernatural activity in the household like in Paranormal Activity or to create a “documentary” to show the world how things “went down”. An unbiased truth as it were that will either be seen or forgotten about if ever “found” by someone with the same questions or those looking for the missing party in question. As Above, So Below takes the documentary route and follows Scarlett as she finds clues that eventually send her looking for a missing chamber within the Catacombs beneath Paris.
After giving an account of why she would like nothing more than to find the mythical stone, Scarlett and cameraman Benjy (Edwin Hodge) arrive at the house of Nicholas Flammel. Nothing is found, but Scarlett’s quest for the truth is far from over as she enlists George (Ben Felderman) a boyfriend she ditched in turkey that somehow got himself arrested and is still burnt about it. However, his anger is cast aside when Scarlett divulges she found the rose key, a major clue to discovering Flammel’s final resting place, as his tomb is barren. George can decipher Aramaic, the language written on the rose key. Which suggests a further reading of the tablet on Flammel’s headstone. Back at the church Scarlett realizes more information is hidden the back, grabs some cleaning products and spreads the liquids on the back of the headstone Lights it ablaze and finds the missing information. George translates a cryptic message, which Scarlett recalls from her studies as a professor at Harvard that hell was believed to be 741 feet below ground in 1330. The stone is also said to lie halfway between hell and earth.
However, Scarlett believes that the Catacombs underneath Paris can lead them to the stone, but she needs a tour guide having never been in the catacombs before. George suggests a friend named Papillon (Francois Civil) as he is familiar with the catacombs and has access to them. Papillon is not easily convinced until Scarlett says they can have half of the treasure if they find the stone and its secret chamber beneath Flammel’s grave.
For those that think Nicholas Flammel may sound familiar you have in fact heard his name before in Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone. Flammel came up in the wizard-trio’s search for answers as things happened around Hogwarts and only Harry, Ron, and Hermione were smart enough to know any better and to question things murmured or overheard from the staff. Nick Flammel was the famed sage that was believed to have found the philosopher’s stone and used its power to become immortal. The stone is also believed to have the power to change ornate metals into silver or gold, making such a tool priceless.
As Above, So Below is a thrilling and overall fun film, but it does feel and plays itself out as a cheapened Raiders of The Lost Ark. Scarlett is able to decipher and decide how to move forward faster even than Robert Langdon as she carries no textbooks or has any real need to find lost or hidden scrolls. This enables her to move quickly, but also raises the question why didn’t she just go and present her case to other stone seekers that may actually have a wallet and ability smooth talk politicians into doing what she wants anyways? Instead of bringing around dead weight to the likes of Souxie (Marion Lambert) and Zed (Ali Mayhar) spelunkers that really have no desire to find the stone or its obviously booby-trapped-treasure. Perdita Week’s Scarlett is more just an eye-catcher as she is smart and just simply wants answers instead of pondering what her father was up to the rest of her life. Any man would want to help her unearth the truth, but then again this a found footage horror film. Cheap and easy is the best route to solve problem and Benjy wants to cash in on Scarlett’s relentless search for the philosopher’s stone.
Once deep within the catacombs ghosts and undead begin to show themselves to Scarlett and her spelunking team, which is shrugged off as they continue to find clues that would lead them to Flammel’s place of peace, just above the gates of hell. Many of the horror gags are hilariously cliché’ such as finding death sitting in a chair or even small children claiming the lives of the spelunking team.
As Above, So Below is good escapist fun, but if you’re looking for a good ol’ horror film this isn’t it as it will only get your heart pacing instead of actually scaring you. Those with a taste of history actually might enjoy this race to hell and allow you to taste something different than your typical historical drama.