Last weekend, as has become something of a tradition, I watched a movie. This time around, it was a pull from my way-too-long Netflix queue (and people complain that there isn’t enough on Netflix). It was called As Above, So Below and was sold to me as a spooky adventure into the tunnels of Hell. Or something like that. Here’s the Netflix synopsis:
A beautiful tomb raider and her crew hunt for treasure in the catacombs of Paris and find themselves in a hellish underworld.
First off: the “tomb raider” isn’t beautiful. She’s cute, sure, but not like, stop-and-stare gorgeous.
Secondly, the movie was kinda boring. It was one of those movies where the main character keeps doing stuff while people are constantly telling her not to, because it’s either illegal or everyone else who has tried has either disappeared or wound up dead. Which is fine in an adventure movie or a comedy, but in a horror film like this, you just don’t sympathize when horrible things start to happen. It’s impossible to feel bad for over-entitled millennials.
It’s also a POV film. Not “found footage” necessarily, because (spoiler) several characters survive. But it’s still all shot from a combination of a handicam and GoPros. The question of how the footage was recovered from some of said GoPros when they were visibly destroyed, we’ll just have to handwave away. Regardless, I’m not really into the whole POV thing. Sometimes it works, and sometimes (like this time) it’s just annoying.
The plot follows Ms Not-Lara Croft in search of the Philosopher’s Stone. Yes. Despite having like seventeen degrees, she’s a firm believer in alchemy. So she assembles a rag-tag group of friends and French spelunkers, and they begin their journey down into the catacombs of France. On the way, they pass a cult of topless women chanting what are surely completely innocent incantations. You might think that this is an important plot point while viewing the film, but these busty ladies never make another appearance.
One thing the film did very well was evoke a sense of claustrophobia. It does this well in general by being set in tight underground tunnels, but there is one very long and very excruciating scene where a character is briefly stuck in a tight passage and starts freaking out. It was very difficult to watch, and had me squirming in my seat the whole time. I’m not exactly claustrophobic myself, but I definitely have some degree of cleithrophobia, as I have had nightmares of getting trapped in tight places for as long as I can remember.
So, what do we watch horror movies for? The kills, of course. They’re… kinda blah here. The first girl to go gets her face bashed in by a possessed mole-man. Another guy falls down a well and goes splat. Then the head French-guy gets sucked into a burning car which promptly implodes and somehow leaves him buried underground with just his feet sticking out. And that was it. The other three characters survive. Though one of them gets his jugular torn out by a gargoyle demon, he is saved by the healing powers of a magic kiss.
What did I tell you already? This movie isn’t very good.
And that’s really too bad, because it seems like a decent premise and the build-up is interesting enough. But in the end it was a bit of a let down. Not “Gah! I’ve wasted my time!” bad, but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. If you want to see some good spelunking-gone-wrong movies, try The Descent or… I can’t think of any others. What about Sanctum? Was Sanctum good? I can’t remember anything about it, so probably not.