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Review: 'As Above' so-so

‘As Above/So Below'

1⁄2 stars

R

Wide

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By Jordan Mintzer
Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014, 8:55 p.m.
 

“Abandon all hope, ye who enter here,” is the inscription uncovered in the catacomb horror flick, “As Above, So Below.”

But the warning could easily apply to viewers checking out this rather hopeless mash-up of “The Descent” and “(Rec),” not to mention a dozen other found-footage movies.

Hardly credible, even for a film claiming that the gates of hell lie a few hundred feet below Paris, this low-budget effort from director John Erick Dowdle and writer-producer-brother Drew Dowdle provides a few late scares after plenty of eye-rolling setup.

Gorgeous tomb raider Scarlett (Perdita Weeks) continues her dead father's lifelong quest to discover the legendary, eternal-life giving Philosopher's Stone. (Yes, the same one from Harry Potter.)

Teaming up with an ex-pat clockmaker (Ben Feldman, aka Ginsberg on “Mad Men”), and a guy named Benji (Edwin Hodge, “The Purge”) who's been brought on as the requisite cameraman-who-keeps-shooting-at-all-costs, Scarlett uncovers a few clues that lead her to the Paris catacombs, which famously house the bones of 6 million dead.

They contract the services of three spelunking Frenchies (Francois Civil, Marion Lambert, Ali Marhyar) and they head underground. Cue up lots of stinging sound effects, eerie chanting, rats, a freaky dude named “the Mole” (Cosme Castro) who pops up now and then, and a slew of lame paranormal gags whereby each character is forced to face their own inner demons.

But the characters are all so brazenly one-dimensional, and Scarlett so ridiculous (she dresses for the expedition like she's headed to the mall), that “As Above” fails to pass the credibility test from the get-go, only partially salvaged by a few chilling moments that pop up in the final reel.

At best, the filmmakers capitalize on their Paris locations, staging a few scenes in the actual catacombs (still a popular tourist attraction), others in a trendy nightclub and empty Right Bank cathedral. Along with a well-chosen closing song from French DJs Scratch Massive, and one or two genuine scares, that's about the best this excursion has to offer. Come for the poster, stay for the end credits.

Jordan Mintzer is a staff writer for The Hollywood Reporter.

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