Monday, January 5, 2015

3 Short Paragraphs: As Above, So Below

2014, John Erick Dowdle (Quarantine, Devil) -- download

Found footage. So overused these days that even I am tiring of it. In addition to the gimmick, you have to have a hook. What if it was taking place in the actual Paris catacombs? As in those actual tunnels beneath Paris that are filled with the bone remains of millions of people? But not just tunnels of bones, but the adjacent curving paths rarely traversed by people, and definitely not tourists? Add in a bit of medieval mysticism concerning alchemy and treasure troves worthy of Indiana Jones, and maybe you have something intriguing? Passably, but barely, yes.

Scarlett is not your average archaeologist. Her intro finds her in Iran climbing around in caves that are about to be dynamited by the government. She seeks a mythical statue that has some connection to her father's legacy. Of course, she finds it just before she and her GoPro camera are blown into dusty bits. Our first hint that she is not your average archaeologist is just how blasé she is about them blowing up priceless history. Quickly we discover she is more about her own ideals than any connection old stuff has to history.

Scarlett leads the team into the tunnels, led by a Parisian tunnel rat known as Papillon. He knows which tunnels to go down and which ones to avoid. He also is very aware there are weirdos all through the tunnels, not just your run of the mill occultists. What he doesn't know is that they also connect to some sort of alternate reality Hell, like Silent Hill or Grave Encounters. A Hell that punishes you for things you don't really deserve to be punished for, if you feel the least guilty. As a thriller, the movie is actually serviceable with some real scares and the claustrophobia of the catacombs. As a horror its just inexplicable mysticism for the sake of it without any real weight, considering some characters actually escape by just climbing... out. Points for a great poster though.