Day #130: As Above, So Below (2014)

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As Above, So Below (2014) IMDB

Synopsis:

[From IMDB:] When a team of explorers ventures into the catacombs that lie beneath the streets of Paris, they uncover the dark secret that lies within this city of the dead.

My take:

Although I can’t exactly remember why this is the case, I went into As Above, So Below with fairly high expectations. And while I can’t say that it fails to deliver in some ways (particularly in the last act of the film), I can say that I walked away feeling, well…underwhelmed.

Despite recognising that there was obviously some thought put into how As Above, So Below [spoiler alert] relates to its literary roots, and even appreciating the (admittedly, occasionally clumsy) blending of features of the found footage horror genre with a more Indiana Jones-esque historical mystery/adventure story, I ultimately found myself thinking that while the movie might have the look and story of a horror movie, it lacked the feeling – or heart – of one.

I found it hard not to compare the plot of As Above, So Below to so many other horror movies set underground. In some respects this is forgivable, because the setting itself is obviously going to bring to the fore certain opportunities for the progression of the story. However, these scenes also made this movie’s emphasis on a kind of aesthetics of horror, rather than on creating an appropriate sense of tension/suspense/fear, all the more obvious.

That there could be a scene with someone supposedly stuck in a tunnel (don’t worry, this happens early on and is largely inconsequential) without causing any discomfort for this self-admitted claustrophobe, whereas a similar scene in The Descent caused me to echo that character’s panic, spoke volumes to me about the distance between the two movies – and, by extension, the deficiencies of this movie.

This lack of tension was frustrating, because I found myself wanting to like As Above, So Below a lot more than I actually did, based on the premise alone. It just never quite gripped me in the way I needed it to.

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