blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

As Above, So Below (2014, John Erick Dowdle)

As Above, So Below is a combination of a Goonies rip-off, a Tomb Raider rip-off, an Indiana Jones spin-off (which might just be the Tomb Raider rip-off), and, I don’t know, either Blair Witch or every other found footage horror movie where the third act just decides it’s time for image overload in lieu of narrative.

But for the first one and a half acts, following “We Called Your Grandpa’s Dog Indiana” archeologist Perdita Weeks (basically if she weren’t terrible, the movie could be at least solid until the third act but she’s terrible so it doesn’t matter from go) as she tries to find the Philosopher’s Stone underneath Paris. Presumably a London-based sequel would have them looking for the Sorcerer’s Stone across the Channel. Wokka wokka.

The opening is her recording herself adventure archeology-ing in Iraq. Apparently the camera is in the hijab. One thing about Dowdle’s direction—it’s more inept than bad. Like Dowdle and cinematographer Léo Hinstin have no idea where to place the cameras to get the camcorder feel. Especially once they start using “pen cameras” in their headlamps. It doesn’t help the documentarian—oh, right, in the story proper Weeks isn’t filming herself, she has a sycophant cameraman Edwin Hodge—it doesn’t help Hodge is both bad and poorly written.

Then there’s Ben Feldman as an Aramaic scholar who breaks into historical buildings and repairs their features for the benefit of mankind. Feldman’s not good but he’s really, really likable. Watch “Superstore.” Not instead. Just watch “Superstore.” Also, obviously instead.

Then there are the French catacombs climbers… François Civil, who constantly looks like he’s surprised they’re making a real movie, punk damsel in distress Marion Lambert, and finally Ali Marhyar, who gets the least to do in the movie and is—consequently, it seems—the best. Always good when Marhyar gets a moment. They’re never bad.

There are ghosts of dead little brothers, dead dads, dead friends. There are scary French hipster witch covens. There is Weeks—after not getting anywhere near as much male gaze throughout as one might expect from the genre—finally down to her tank top and slick with blood.

The script, by director Dowdle and Drew Dowdle—based on the ineptness of the script, they’ve got to be related—seems like an elongated second act sequence in a tent pole movie. Like one where Indiana Jones’s granddaughter comes across the last Goonie and they go for an adventure.

Sadly, no sign of One-Eyed Willie, but they do find the Last Crusader. Oops, spoilers. But not really because you shouldn’t be watching As Above, So Below, because there’s “Superstore.”

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