Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Movie Review: "As Above, So Below" (2014)

Movie"As Above, So Below"
Director: John Erick Dowdle
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 33 minutes
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Benji (Edwin Hodge) is making a documentary film about Scarlett (Perdita Weeks), who is an urban archaeologist continuing her dead father's work in pursuit of the legendary philosopher's stone. After reconnecting with George (Ben Feldman), who she abandoned in Turkey, she convinces him to help her translate some new inscriptions she found  since he speaks and reads Aramaic, a dead language. They believe these inscriptions reveal the location of the philosopher's stone: hidden 300 feet deep below the grave of Nicolas Flamel, its creator. In order to get there, they enlist the help of Papillon (Francois Civil) and his crew to take them into the restricted area of the catacombs.

Let's start by saying this again: we are in no way, shape, or form fans of the found footage genre. In a lot of ways, it's the lazy person's way of film making, especially when it's not done well. Plus, it's majorly headache inducing. As we type this right now, we are still recovering from the headache that was this movie. There is far too much camera dropping, camera gyration, long shots of actor's feet, and running around in circles for this film to be successful.

While the story of the catacombs is indeed quite intriguing, this movie was not. It tried really hard to be scientific, with loads of mythological and archaeological mumbo-jumbo to compensate for the lack of a real plot. It felt like it took a little too long for the group to get into the catacombs, and once they get there, things pick up a bit, but nothing overly scary happens during the duration of the film. There are one or two really cool scenes when people die, but other than that and one jump-scare, this movie is not overly frightening. We think that part of this is because of the found footage camera work. We can tell they were trying ridiculously hard to make it "more scary" by allowing audiences to have the same "tunnel vision" as the actors.

For a movie that talks a lot about entering hell and being haunted by past demons, there's no consistency once they get through the gates of hell. Some of the people in the group are in fact haunted by things from their past, but others are attacked by completely random beings that have nothing to do with their inner struggles. Faces from a wall coming to life and biting people aren't nearly as creepy when there's no reason behind it. In fact, none of the stuff that was supposed to be scary was. The scariest part about this movie was the fact that it takes place underground, far beyond the reaches of mankind, and in ridiculously enclosed, tight spaces. Let's face it: caves are unnerving. You never know if something is going to collapse on top of you, even if it's during a tour. For someone who has minor claustrophobia AKA, both of us, there is a part in the film where Benji, the documentary film maker, gets stuck going in between a tight space through a tunnel of bones. Can we say creeptastic? I could feel the walls closing in on me and hyperventilated a little bit inside myself.

In the end, this movie lacks the suspense and the scare-factor to be anything other than another failed horror film. Without these two key elements, it really doesn't go much of anywhere. It's nothing more than a cliched first-person point of view, and for god sake, can we just stop with this found footage crap already? On top of all this, we don't get emotionally invested in any of the characters or their plight, it's bogged down by science-y terms to make it sound smarter than it is, and it feels slow, even though it is only 93 minutes long.

My Rating: 4/10
BigJ's Rating: 4/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 28%
Do we recommend this movie: No.
One year ago, we were watching: "Olympus Has Fallen"

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