As Above, So Below

As Above, So Below

An adventurous archeologist descends into the catacombs below Paris with a ragtag team of urban spelunkers in search of the Philosopher’s Stone, and discovers a terrifying netherworld of personal horror.

There’s a lot about this movie that should have made it a failure. The idea is hackneyed and derivative, stealing equal parts from “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Tomb Raider,” “The Descent,” and “The DaVinci Code”; the characters are predictable tropes; the “clues” they find are laughably ludicrous; it feels like a “found footage” movie, with most of the cameras affixed to the characters’ heads, but it breaks its own cinematography rules whenever it’s convenient. But I absolutely loved it!

It feels like a classic D&D dungeon crawl, with a party of rogues seeking treasure while beset with traps and demons. They all have their own motives for being there–the lure of riches, the thirst for knowledge, haunted pasts–and they all find something different in the catacombs. Some meet gruesome and surprising ends, and as thin as the characterization was, I felt bad for them; I think that was largely because the cast were so enthusiastic and committed to the preposterous setup that I couldn’t help but be equally enthusiastic and committed.

A great movie? No, but a seriously fun movie. A horror movie? Well, there’s at least one great jump-scare, and some pretty gruesome scenes, but it probably belongs more with “Raiders of the Lost Ark” than “The Descent.” Certainly a movie worth a watch.