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As Above, So Below: Tomb Raider and the Hunt for the Redeeming Ending

January 22, 2015

As Above So Below movie poster

As Above, So Below is not a good film but it tries to rise above the rest. It features an Indiana Jones type heroine and an unexpected ending that left me satisfied and not thinking about the nausea inducing camera work. In a day and age of horror remakes, sequels, remakes, reboots and spin-offs I liked the new direction of As Above.

The story revolves around an intrepid alchemy scholar named Scarlet (Perdita Weeks) hunting down the Sorcerer’s Stone. Scarlet is intelligent, selfish, driven and the child of a lost adventurer.  Her globe-trotting quest leads her to the catacombs of Paris where things will eventually go wrong. While in Paris she reunites with her ex-boyfriend George (Ben Feldman) and the reunion is far from pleasant.  The last time she saw George she was leaving him to be arrested in a Turkish prison. He isn’t happy about the ordeal but Scarlet armed with new evidence convinces him to take the journey into the catacombs.


I like that the characters push themselves into dangerous situations because of their obsession with history. It is refreshing to see a kamikaze female character that has a black belt in Krav Maga (which she doesn’t get a chance to use in hell) and doesn’t think twice about putting herself in danger. She is a driven individual who you do not want to hang out with (you will probably end up dead or stuck in a Turkish prison).

As Above So below map


They gather a crew of Parisians who know the tunnels and they embark on a quest that will not end well for most of them.  There are several moments when your hand will slap your head due to incredibly poor choices. For instance, if you see a cult singing music underground maybe you shouldn’t go deeper and deeper into the weirdness. Eventually, pianos pop up out of nowhere and they will enter a tiny tunnel that has “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here” written above it. However, Scarlet lives by the motto “you have to break an egg to make an omelette” and her crew suffers many cracks in her omelette making.

The fact that they shot most of the film in the actual Paris catacombs is impressive. However, due to the shaky camera work the locations become moot. This is a shame because it is no easy feat to fit a production down there. They had amazing access to a great location and tried to waste it via pinballing camera work. The directors  John Erik and Drew Dowdle (Devil..which I think is underrated) had this to say about it. 

They’re 200 miles of tunnels, five stories underground, that hold the remains of six million bodies. So there’s bones and skulls. It was cold, it was dark, there was no bathroom down there. Water up to your waist some days. You’d sometimes have to crawl around on all fours for an hour at a time. It was gnarly. We’re the first feature to get permission to shoot in the off-limits areas. We were like, “We’re not bringing lights, we’ll just do it docu-style.” In a lot of scenes the actors light the scene themselves with their head lamps.

as above so below

Here is what I love about As Above (SPOILERS!!!!!!!). They eventually find themselves in hell and many of the team start to die. As things get bleak Scarlet makes a mad dash through the catacombs in order to replace the sorcerers stone and turn the world around. Just as you think bleak will prevail (Think Blair Witch), Scarlet saves the day and three people survive. I realize that several young people died but it is kinda nice that we don’t get the stock everybody dies ending (Think Grave Encounters).  It seems like another day in the life of Scarlet and you are convinced she and George will find themselves in more shenanigans in which a couple of red shirts will die.

Many horror films annoy me due to inevitable borrowing, repeating and blood-letting. As Above combined horror with adventure and I left the experience feeling satisfied. It won’t become a cult classic and the 27% Rotten Tomatoes score is understandable. However, I had fun with the film and I really liked the idea of it.

Watch As Above, So Below. Appreciate what you see of the catacombs and let me know what you think about the ending!

5 Comments leave one →
  1. johnleavengood permalink
    February 2, 2015 12:27 pm

    A very fun National Treasure adventure story meets horror. I liked most of the characters, the premise was neat, and the weird horror stuff that happens was fun (even though there was no real synthesis to it, a theme yes, but synthesis no–it was all over the place). Overall a very fun movie experience and I wouldn’t have watched were it not for your review.

    • February 2, 2015 12:29 pm

      Nice! Glad you watched it. The ending was so refreshing. I want more of these characters.

      • johnleavengood permalink
        February 2, 2015 12:31 pm

        YES to that. Our heroine and her unwilling partner were great! But I wouldn’t want any more of their catacombs. I’d want to see the same characters investigating something new.


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