#Movie Review* As Above/So Below

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Scarlett (Perdita Weeks) and George (Ben Feldman) attempt to decipher ancient text in the twisting catacombs beneath the Parisian streets. 

Director: John Erick Dowdle

Cast: Perdita Weeks, Ben Feldman, Edwin Hodge, François Civil, Marion Lambert, Ali Marhyar

Rating: **** (4 of 5 stars)

Length: 100 minutes

Opening: Now showing

The Plot: A treasure hunt, headed by a determined woman on a mission, leads a troop of six to the catacombs under the streets of Paris where six million dead lie. The explorers face their personal demons which haunt them as they try to make their way out of a labyrinth of bones.

NOTHING really scares Scarlett Marlowe (Perdita Weeks) as she lives through her obsession to find Nicolas Flamel's Philosopher's Stone, which according to legend can turn metal into gold and grant eternal life. The artifact, was also something that her father – who took his own life – chased. Scarlett is drawn to finish his work and restore his legacy as rumours of his insanity spread. Her search leads her to the world's largest crypt – the Catacombs, six stories under the streets of Paris.

Amateur filmmaker Benji (Edwin Hodge) is her first recruit and he journeys with her, and thus documents every step of the journey; from when Scarlett ropes in archaeologist and sneaky historical monument restorer George (Ben Feldman), to how the explorer team grows to include Papillon (François Civil) – who was recommended through an interesting twist – and his crew of Souxie (Marion Lambert) and Zed (Ali Marhyar).

As they set off into the underground, George firmly tells Scarlett that he would not follow them but is finally forced no thanks to police who ambush them just as they venture into an off-limits entry to the catacombs.

From claustrophobia to suicide, each member is faced with secrets from their past and as their quest to find the Philosopher Stone and treasure ventures deeper into the ground, so does their personal hell.

Although the film is yet another that embraces the camera-holding effect – handheld and head-mounted cameras – As Above/So Below presents an interesting enough psychological thriler.

Written and directed by John Erick Dowdle and written and produced by Drew Dowdle of the 'Devil' and 'Quarantine' fame, it is the first production to ever receive permission to record the off-limits sections of the Catacombs. The story line is captivating and holds the audience's attention enough, despite the usual shakiness that can be expected of the cinematographic effects.

The flick is rich in history and/or mythology and pretty good-looking nerds' Scarlett and George – who share great chemistry – treasure hunt and clue deciphering slant can pique the interest of viewers, especially those who have enthusiasm for historical events. The journey does let you encounter the likes of a grim reaper and gargoyle-like creatures as the Scarlett's courage is slowly chipped away, and at some parts, the effects makes you think you're really just playing a video game.

There are two ways to look at it – it's either good or bad that the film ends in a safe mode, although it looks like the survivors are only going deeper into the ground. Good that there is an end to the plot, but could be bad in that the gates of Hell could have been discovered and the movie could have gone deeper.

Still, not to give away too much; having reviewed two hand-held camera movie styles consecutively, it's safe to say 'As Above/So Below' is a hidden gem (pun not intended) in the sea of such cinematographic horror flicks. It would not match up to the likes of 'The Conjuring' or 'The Exorcist' standards for those who like having an open ending. But if you find yourself grimacing in your seat or have your ears picking up subtle sounds while the movie plays, like I did, it's worth a watch for horror fans for pure entertainment value. – Pix by Legendary Pictures/Universal Pictures

(L-R) Zed (Ali Marhyar), Souxie (Marion Lambert), George (Ben Feldman) and Benji (Edwin Hodge) traverse miles of twisting catacombs beneath the streets of Paris in As Above/So Below. A journey into madness and terror, As Above/So Below reaches deep into the human psyche to reveal the personal demons that come back to haunt us all. – Pix by Bruno Calvo
The brave Scarlett ventures deeper into the Catacombs of  Paris and finds her courage being chipped away as each of the six-men and women troop members face their personal demons.
Scarlett (Perdita Weeks) crawls through the twisting catacombs beneath the streets of Paris.