Film Throwback: August 2014 release, 'As Above So Below' boldly moulds alternate sub-genre.

This week’s review takes us back to August last summer, and a horror unlike many others.

As Above So Below boldly moulds alternate sub-genre

Claustrophobic horror brings us Indiana Jones meets The Descent amalgamation

In the final analysis of a movie, one must be wary of classic a feature as ‘genre-breaking’. But sometimes the cliché is not just merited it is fully justified. With As Above So Below, that is exactly the case.

Such is the copy-cat nature of the horror genre in particular, with so many dime-a-dozen inferior examples to merely serve audience demand however, it is a task in itself to get anywhere near achieving it.

Directed by John Erick Dowdle, no stranger himself to the horror thriller with Devil (2010) and US reboot of Spanish horror classic Rec, Quarantine (2008), the director takes a slight departure from common ground with As Above’. However, both elements of his previous outings can be evidenced in his latest offering.

The movie is set in Paris, as a team of explorers venture into the catacombs that lie beneath the streets of the French capital. But as they do, the band uncover the dark secrets that lie beneath this ancient city of the dead.

The movie’s chief female protagonist, Scarlett, an English archaeologist searching for the ‘the truth’ is accompanied by long-time friend and excavator, George. Together they enlist the help of Francois (Pap), as a tour guide for areas of the city’s underbelly that – shall we say – are on the tourist itinerary.

The movie’s initial pacing is well balanced and the handheld style aids with the sense of real fear and general claustrophobia, as the party descend deeper into the Parisian depths.

What becomes apparent and pleasantly surprising about this particular horror, is the piece takes an unexpected turn. The group take a seemingly darker and darker path into the catacombs and a cynic would predict the group to be mere cannon fodder, from thereon in. To an extent, one would be correct but As Above’ also begins to then show its’ intelligent side

All of a sudden we are immersed in what can only be described as a cross between The Last Crusade, National Treasure and The Descent.

It is on hand bizarre, but nevertheless distinctly enjoyable. We are looking at more of an adventure horror and by the latter very tongue-in-cheek. Yet it does not detract from what is an engrossing journey.

Retracing our steps to the lead female, Scarlett, in her we have how we perceive to be a very naïve young explorer in a city alien to her. But what unveils itself is her fortitude. She is very much the brains of the outfit. Scarlett is clearly scholastic, which is nice change for someone in her shoes in this particular genre. Not only that, but the climax is all the more believable because of her character.
Without giving away too much, one could critically pan the outcome, but with foresight, As Above So Below’s conclusion is smart and can be seen as a post-modern, dystopian view of the world as a bigger picture.

The nuances of this horror make it a breath of fresh air, in an otherwise turgid and monotonous brand for the most part. Whilst not everyone’s cup of tea, if one was looking for a more innovative 90 mins of celluloid, even the most hardened of film cynic could do a lot worse than this.