By Matt Goodman | email@example.com
As the summer blockbusters finish up, the low budget “As Above, So Below,” proves that a movie doesn’t need a load of money to be a solid piece of entertainment.
The film, produced by Universal and Legendary Pictures, cost a mere $5 million to make. Though it won’t break any records, it is already a box office success, nearly doubling its production costs in the first weekend with an opening of $8.6 million.
The film stars Perdita Weeks as Scarlett, an incredibly bold character in search of the Philosopher’s Stone, said to be the source of power for alchemists.
Along with her videographer Benji (Edwin Hodge), former colleague George (Bed Feldman) and urban explorer Papillon (Francois Civil), Scarlett heads deep into the catacombs under the streets of Paris, hoping to find the stone.
While exploring the catacombs’ uncharted passages and hidden corridors, a tunnel collapses, forcing the group to continue deeper underground to find another way out.
The story’s premise is terribly exciting. It’s reminiscent of 2006’s “The Descent.” A strong female lead takes a group into a claustrophobic mess of tunnels and passageways. Unnatural secrets eventually emerge and begin the chaos.
“As Above, So Below” employs the once popular found footage genre to create an extremely eerie atmosphere for 93 minutes. Some may find the shaky camera too much to stomach, but it’s something to be expected when going into a film of this type.
The found footage style helps the claustrophobic tension rise in the beginning, but when the story begins to unravel into hellish chaos, the shaky camera becomes a little unnecessary.
The effects were solid. Legendary Pictures is known for its creature effects like the summer’s smash hit “Godzilla.” It was cool to see how they brought those effects into a low budget film.
The trailer makes it seem like it could be a gore fest, given Legendary’s assortment of effects. I was pleasantly surprised to find the scares more atmospheric and practical, not focusing on repulsion and shock value.
While the second half of the film makes little sense, it’s still a fun ride to sit through. Just don’t try to bring too much logic into the theater, and don’t plan on understanding everything you see.
With a setting so strong, the production definitely could have been better. The found footage style is certainly cheaper, and still effective in this case, but it definitely wasn’t as encapsulating and terrifying as “The Descent.”
Weeks’ unrelenting energy as Scarlett is the true gem in this movie. The character is interesting, with more pluck and excitement than many male protagonists that have debuted this summer.
The relatively unknown cast gives this horror flick a refreshing air of authenticity as they all give solid performances. The lack of cheesy acting is a pleasant change from many films in the genre.
I give the film a 3.5/5. “As Above, So Below” provides a tense atmosphere with some genuine scares, but doesn’t follow much logic towards the end. It’s worth the price of admission and thoroughly entertains. Just don’t try to explore too deep – you might find yourself lost.