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As Above So Below

From the director of REC remake Quarantine and claustrophobic elevator horror Devil comes As Above So Below, a bizarre film about searching for treasure in a secret tunnel of the catacombs.

When a group of reluctant explorers venture into the catacombs beneath Paris they inadvertently uncover the dark secrets that lie within the city of the dead. On a quest to find the ‘Philosophers stone’, which is unintentionally quite funny for anyone familiar with Harry Potter. Oh wait, that’s everyone.

As Above So Below teeters on the line between horror and thriller. It packs a few jump scares and some decent scary imagery, but the rest of it is just suspense and irritating handheld camerawork. It manages a slightly superior level of handheld camerawork than the likes of Paranormal Activity, with a crisp picture and a clever use of Go-Pro cameras strapped to the helmets of the explorers which gives some of the scenes an interesting video game type feel.

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The suspense is good, the use of sound and the crisp but shaky camerawork gives it a good overall aesthetic, and of course the location is brilliantly dingy and creepy, but what it has in aesthetics, it lacks in narrative. The convoluted plot is difficult to keep up with, there is too much going on, too many characters to follow and it just doesn’t really make any sense.

Why Scarlett (Perdita Weeks) wants to go into the catacombs and discover whatever the hell it is she’s trying to discover is very difficult to understand. Her father keeps cropping up, and it becomes clear that he has committed suicide, and was in the middle of a quest which Scarlett obviously feels compelled to complete. But that story is far too convoluted; the suicide is random and it’s too much to get your head around. Couldn’t her father be dead, but with no explanation as to why? That would make the main story a lot easier to focus on!

The concept is interesting, the catacombs are the perfect backdrop for a creepy horror film and credit where it’s due a large portion of the imagery, sound, acting and camerawork do pull together to make something pretty enjoyable and at times fairly scary.

There are far better recent horror films you can seek out to watch this Halloween. As Above So Below is OK, it’s got a few good jump scares in there and is entertaining enough, however if you’re looking for scares (and who in their right mind isn’t at Halloween?!) then look elsewhere.

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If you would like to read more from today’s contributor, Natasha, you can find her blog at Films and Things. While social media types can take a look at both her Facebook page, and her Twitter account.

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