ARROW IN THE HEAD REVIEWS

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As Above, So Below (2014)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: John Erick Dowdle

Starring:
Perdita Weeks/Scarlett
Ben Feldman/George
Edwin Hodge/Benji
Francois Civil/Papillon
7 10
PLOT-CRUNCH
Oh so spank-able hottie and pseudo archaeologist Scarlett (Perdita Weeks) drags a team of explorers (no Dora included) into the depths of the Paris Catacombs to find a special stone. Once down there, they find way more than a freaking rock! Lets just say lots of weird and spooky shit befalls them and their little excursion goes straight to hell.
THE LOWDOWN
In terms of John Erick Dowdle’s filmography, I’ve only seen DEVIL, which I thoroughly enjoyed (nope, never got down with QUARANTINE, don't need to, I own a copy of REC). But just the fact that AS ABOVE, SO BELOW was created by the dude behind DEVIL was enough to get me pumped for it. So did it deliver the macabre goods?

Even with all of its flaws, I can’t deny that AS ABOVE SO BELOW (written by John Erick Dowdle and his bro Drew Dowdle) gave me a good time at the movies. At first I was put off by the found-footage format (a subgenre that I am personally sick of) but at about 15 minutes in I got hooked in by the flick's appealing characters and F-ed up situations and was also somewhat fascinated by the mythology on hand which was based on real life myths (right down to the movie's title which is a saying by Pagan prophet Hermes Trismegistus). I'll definately check out new sights when I go back to Paris someday! Do you remember the end of INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE? Ya know, Indy is forced to enter the temple where the Holy Grail resides and has to solve riddles and duck booby traps to get to his end game? Well AS ABOVE, SO BELOW reminded me of that finale, but stretched out over an hour and with a mean horror edge added to it. Yes, that’s a compliment!

The flick did right by me on many levels. First off; I loved the casting. Although some of the characters were a tad too underdeveloped for my liking (like Ali Marhyar’s and Marion Lambert’s roles, I kept forgetting they were there); on the whole I actually dug and cared about everybody with the yummy Scarlett (Perdita Weeks), cool-cat Papillon (François Civil), the affable George (Ben Feldman) and the "smarter than most" Benji (Edwin Hodge) being in the forefront. The performances felt organic and everybody shared a well oiled chemistry, hence contributed to me buying into the sordid happenings. And big kudos to John Erick Dowdle for putting me through the ringer by way of his tension charged and grab by the collar directing choices. He truly gave what could have been a mundane walk through the found footage park a potent shot of adrenaline. There was one scene in particular here having to do with some poor sap getting stuck in a tight spot and not being able to get out. Now I’m a claustrophobic person by nature (heights not a problem, tights spaces - problem) and the scene in question had me squirming in my seat like a worm getting impaled on a hook. It was expertly conveyed!  Add to all that an unpredictable nature that I enjoyed, a furious pace, a badass sound design, some pretty cool ideas and a handful of cringe inducing moments that carved a smile on my face and you get a nail-biting horror-coaster ride that didn't always hit the mark, but that gave it its best shot with gusto!

On the flip-side; the film sported dumb moves/turns to serve the plot (don’t get me started on that The Mole character and how that was handled) and it came with the token “found footage” fail: "Who’s filming that person who is alone again?" Exactly. My main peeves though were A- That after all of the build up, the horror that was delivered didn’t do it for me 100%. Some of it came off as cheesy/silly and I was expecting more than what we got. And B- At the end, I didn’t fully get the inner workings of the plot. So either I am a moron or the film did a lousy job at explaining itself. I opt for the first option by the way.You tell me! NOTE: I couldn’t decipher Perdita Weeks whispering revelation during the finale, you know the moment where she divulged an important piece of information? The one that sent the film to its ending? Yeah that one. I was begging for subtitles there. So yeah, that played against me.

When all was said and bent over; I can't deny that I enjoyed myself with AS ABOVE, SO BELOW and that’s all that matters to me! It is the kind of movie that one can nitpick the shit out of if they wanted to, but personally, I didn't care to. I wanted to be entertained, I was, end of story. I'll leave the nitpicking to the trolls and "real critics". Now I loved watching it with a crowd (who laughed and jumped at the same places as me) but you can wait for the disk IMO. It’s definitely worth at least ONE look though!

GORE
I don’t want to give away the kills as most surprised me. I will say that we get a head bashed in and a river of blood. See the rest for yourselves! Although not a gorefest, the flick was grisly, red and nasty enough to satisfy this a-hole.
T & A
Don’t blink and you’ll get some pasty white titties.
BOTTOM LINE
You know that feeling you get when walking through a haunted house at a theme park? AS ABOVE SO BELOW gave me the same vibe. It was was an ambitious effort that didn’t always hit the sweet-spot but that at least tried to give us something more elevated than the usual found-footage shit-show. The cast was bang-on, the pace/chain of events engaging, some of the scares got me and the suspense/eerie sound design were on fire! Granted; the execution of some of its more out there ideas wasn’t always on the money, dumb moves to serve the plot were abound and the flick left me in the dust here and there in terms of WHAT THE BLEEP was going on. But at the end of the evisceration, I got my thrills and chills fix from this one. So job done! I'd see it again! On a last note; its “real life” mythology intrigued me; so yeah I’ll be looking into it further. Fascinating shit!
BULL'S EYE
Perdita Weeks also starred in Patrik Syversen's 2011 horror film Prowl.

Some of the film was filmed in the actual Catacombs of Paris; which is a tourist spot today.

Edwin Hodge has been in all kinds of cool films: The Purge: Anarchy, The Purge, All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, The Long Kiss Goodnight and the list goes on!
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+0
11:51PM on 09/10/2014

Really enjoyed your review

Well done as always. I wish I liked the movie as much as you did though. I didn't hate it, in fact I really did enjoy it once they got down into the Catacombs. My two big complaints are one, that I was bored with everything prior to their excursion. I don't think I'm simple minded in that sense, it's just that I went in expecting action from the get go so that part dragged. Second, I could not stand the lead character. She was hot and I think a good actress, but I just didn't like her. When
Well done as always. I wish I liked the movie as much as you did though. I didn't hate it, in fact I really did enjoy it once they got down into the Catacombs. My two big complaints are one, that I was bored with everything prior to their excursion. I don't think I'm simple minded in that sense, it's just that I went in expecting action from the get go so that part dragged. Second, I could not stand the lead character. She was hot and I think a good actress, but I just didn't like her. When that poor guy was stuck in the hole and her voice droning on and on giving him orders, rather than being soothing and shutting the fuck up for one second - I seriously thought to cover my ears. I don't know what it is she just grated on me and was so self centered with her goals, to the detriment of everybody else. Now that said and done, I thought they did such a fantastic job with the horror aspects, because I did really enjoy the spooks and all of the kills took me by surprise. I really think that was well done.

I was confused at the end and couldn't hear what Scarlett was saying or what was really going on at that point either. I don't think I'm nitpicking except for one area and that would be Scarlett's hand crocheted sweater. Silly though, and no bearing on the movie. :) Odd thing to wear though when going on such an excursion. Sometimes when I'm disappointed in a movie, it improves on me as time goes on. Perhaps that will happen here. I'm giving a green rating because I loved your review and also because there was plenty I did really like about this movie, it's just not one I'd buy or watch again.
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+1
9:10PM on 08/29/2014

Really Liked It

I really enjoyed the movie. The premise was well laid out at the beginning and I was intrigued to see where things would go. Atmosphere was very chilling at times, I forced myself to look at the screen if I thought something freaky was going to happen =). All in all, I'm glad I went to see this. Hopefully, word of mouth will be good and allow this film to have a decent run.
I really enjoyed the movie. The premise was well laid out at the beginning and I was intrigued to see where things would go. Atmosphere was very chilling at times, I forced myself to look at the screen if I thought something freaky was going to happen =). All in all, I'm glad I went to see this. Hopefully, word of mouth will be good and allow this film to have a decent run.
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+1
9:56AM on 08/29/2014

not bad at all

glad to hear someone else was effected by that stuck-in-the-tunnel scene! it had me squirming as well. I would agree with your assessment. Not great, but a fun time at the movies. Wish they would have explained things a bit better, but all in all, not too shabby. I will say it was the first "found footage" movie to make me a tad nauseous. not sure if that's me getting older or if it was more shaky than normal, but thought it might be worth mentioning.
glad to hear someone else was effected by that stuck-in-the-tunnel scene! it had me squirming as well. I would agree with your assessment. Not great, but a fun time at the movies. Wish they would have explained things a bit better, but all in all, not too shabby. I will say it was the first "found footage" movie to make me a tad nauseous. not sure if that's me getting older or if it was more shaky than normal, but thought it might be worth mentioning.
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