As Above, So Below
Perdita Weeks, Ben Feldman, Edwin Hodge, François Civil
Directed by John Erick Dowdle
As Above, So Below takes the average psychological thriller and amps it up with an intelligent approach on a treasure hunt for the Philosopher’s Stone. Thank you, J.K. Rowling, for writing about him in Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone. As soon as the name Flamel was mentioned I knew exactly what the object Scarlett (Weeks) was searching for and the qualities it held.
Real or myth? The philosopher’s stone was said to have been created by Nicolas Flamel with qualities to turn objects into gold, healing powers, and immortality to whoever has the stone in their possession. Scarlett continues her deceased father’s search for the stone, guided by his notebook and her knowledge of history.
Flamel is buried in Paris and so the stone is speculated to be hidden near him. With the aid of an old friend, a cameraman to document her journey, and Parisians who have frequented the underground tunnels of Paris, Scarlett descends on a perilous path to unlocking the mystery of the Philosopher’s Stone.
The familiar path the French guides are used to tricks them into walking back to the start of the tunnel. Only this time, the entrance has disappeared and they are forced into taking the dangerous unknown route. This route frightens the guides because they remember an old friend who lived in the tunnels one day explored it… and never came out.
Haunted images follow the group on the trail to Flamel’s tomb. Claustrophobia builds tension and anxiety in the audience. The limited sight viewers have from cameras attached to each character’s head flashlight give brief glimpses of terrifying specters. The sounds emitted from strange occurrences create hair-raising expectations that supernatural beings are around the corner. It’s enough to make you want to take a deep breath and partially cover your eyes to avoid fully seeing the stuff that makes up nightmares.
The horror continues as the group descends farther into darkness. [SPOILER AHEAD] When the only way to get outside is to crawl through the gates of Hell, the leading question is can this story get any scarier? What does Hell look like? The challenge of surviving underground is slim. We wonder who will be chosen next to die for their mistakes.
As Above, So Below combines history, puzzles, and myths into a psychological thriller that succeeds in being terrifying. There’s just the right amount of pop-out horror and tension to make the audience feel anxious about the next turn of events. It sets the right level of horror to potentially induce nightmares later on. If you’re looking for a good scare, this is the movie to spend your money on.