Better than expected but still not worth your time, “As Above, So Below” at least gets credit for trying to be different.
The latest found footage horror film throws in a few new wrinkles, and has some promise for about 3/4 of the film until it falls apart and resorts to typical horror cliches in the final act.
The premise is interesting at least. Scarlett (Perdita Weeks) is an archeologist looking for a mysterious stone that could be the key to eternal life.
Her quest takes her to the Paris catacombs. She assembles a team to go deep into uncharted areas of the catacombs, where they uncover dark secrets that grow even darker the deeper the team goes.
For a while “As Above, So Below” is interesting – sort of a cross between “National Treasure” and “The Descent.” irector John Erick Dowdle manages to capture a creepy aura, playing off the claustrophobia of the dark caverns.
But Dowdle, who co-wrote the film with brother Drew Dowdle, seems to run out of ideas after an hour. At that point the film becomes nothing more than your typical horror film, with the cast dwindling to faceless pawns set up to create the next scare/death scene.
And it builds to a final scene that – although different by the genre’s standards – is a head scratcher and a big letdown.
Horror fans will probably find enough to at least give “As Above, So Below” a pass. It is one of the better films in the genre in recent memory, but not good enough to satisfy anyone but hard-core horror fans.
DVD dandy of the week
The NFL season kicksoff tonight and this week’s dandy is the perfect companion: “Draft Day” (B-) is the Ivan Reitman sports film that works largely due to a strong cast, headed by Kevin Costner.
The 59-year-old actor has become a staple in many of the better sports films, from “Bull Durham” to “Tin Cup,” and he is in his element here in a role that fits him like a glove.
Costner plays Sonny Weaver, the general manager of the Cleveland Browns. The film features a whirlwind day, with the NFL draft as the backdrop.
Fans are yearning for a winner. The Browns owner (Frank Langella) is looking for Weaver to make a big splash in the upcoming draft.
There is the turmoil in Weaver’s personal life, as well.
His father, the former Browns coach he fired, has just died. Sonny also learns that Ali (Jennifer Garner), a front office employee he is secretly romantically involved with, is pregnant.
With everything in play, Weaver has to find out what is worth sacrificing in his personal life while making the right pick to help shape the Browns’ future.
The sports aspects are aided by the cooperation of the NFL, giving it a nice bit of realism. But there are moments in the film that feel as if they happened in a fantasy football draft, it would be a stretch of the imagination.
“Draft Day” may not always get the sports part right, but it does succeed with the human element – mostly because of the cast.
Costner is very believable as Weaver, a role similar in ways to his role as Crash Davis in “Bull Durham.”
Garner has good chemistry with Costner, with small roles from Ellen Burstyn and Chadwick Boseman given little moments to shine.
Reitman uses the strong cast to his advantage, creating a film that may not be the football equivalent of a touchdown, but it’s still a solid field goal.
“Draft Day” is rated R for brief strong language and is available on DVD.
“As Above, So Below”
Starring: Perdita Weeks, Ben Feldman
Directed by: John Erick Dowdle
Rating: R for bloody violence/terror, and language throughout
Playing at: Regal Greenwood Mall Stadium 10, Highland Cinemas (Glasgow)