As Above So Below review: not quite rock-bottom, but nearly

As Above So Below
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Director: John Erick Dowdle
Cert: 15A
Genre: Horror
Starring: Perdita Weeks, Ben Feldman, Edwin Hodge
Running Time: 1 hr 33 mins

Let’s talk about found footage. Must we? Well, the blasted stuff won’t go away. So I suppose we have no option.

There are many reasons to hate this throwaway horror film, but there are few more pressing than its unnecessarily implausible use of handheld cameras. Of course, we accept certain conventions. But this is the sort of picture that asks documentarians to frame perfectly steady images while encountering incursions from the seventh circle of hell. You won’t buy it.

We begin with an archetypal genius hard-ass (Perdita Weeks) – black belt in Krav Maga, PhD from ToffeeNose, Oxford – getting into trouble while investigating graves in Iraq. What she finds there propels her to Paris and encounters in that city’s famously creepy catacombs.

The premise is beyond absurd: a search for the Philosopher’s Stone. The dialogue is stupider than you’d expect. There are, however, possibilities in the location and, at first, the spookiness is built up quite effectively. The various members of Dr KickButt’s party encounter supernatural phenomena that relate to specific tragedies in their past.


But just as we’ve got around to celebrating the lack of pointless running about, our heroes start running about pointlessly. Sometimes it’s annoying. Sometimes it’s disgusting. Most of the time it’s too murky to be either.

Non, merci.

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke, a contributor to The Irish Times, is Chief Film Correspondent and a regular columnist