As Above/So Below
Director John Erick Dowdle surprised me with his scary little flick Devil (written by M. Night Shyamalan). This had such a cool looking movie poster, I was interested to see a horror film that takes place in the catacombs of Paris. I should’ve realized there’d be recycled bits from previous movies.
The story is about an archeologist/explorer/tomb raider named Scarlett (Perdita Weeks). She wants to prove that her father wasn’t crazy when he went searching for the Philospher’s stone. I wish she would’ve searched for a tripod to give Dowdle. Enough with the shaky cameras! It was clever in Blair Witch, now it’s just tiring.
She has some kind of relationship with George (Ben Feldman), who likes to fix old clocks. He wants nothing to do with her. You see, she landed him a Turkish prison (which is slightly less enjoyable than the Turkish baths). Yet he can translate old languages, and he gets talked into going into the catacombs. They also have a cameraman (Edwin Hodge), and a local graffiti artist (Francois Civil), who often takes folks down there. He has a crew of misfits that, instead of wearing their climbing gear, should’ve worn the red shirts from Star Trek.
There were a few interesting nuggets thrown out about the catacombs. Who knew over six million bodies are in the thing? There were also a few good scares and some interesting claustrophobic moments. The set-up was also interesting.
They discuss whether these catacombs lead to the Gates of Hell, if there’s a Philospher’s stone, or if it’s all just rumors and urban legend.
Since much of this movie is an incoherent mess, things are thrown out and never brought up again – Scarlett being a black belt, or a weird cult that gathers and hums hymns topless in a cave.
Weeks plays a character that is anything but weak, and it’s nice to have a brave, adventurous woman (that isn’t Angelina Jolie raiding tombs).
There’s a moment when they see some Aramaic writing that says, “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”
Of course, Scarlett slides right in; and of course, it gave all of us critics a great line for the folks that enter the theatre in hopes of a great horror movie.
It could’ve been worse.
I’m giving it 1 ½ stars out of 5.