As Above/So Below

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
As Above/So Below Movie Poster Image
Cool heroine in scary but uneven found-footage horror movie.
  • R
  • 2014
  • 93 minutes
Parents recommend

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

age 16+
Based on 10 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The movie features some teamwork and characters who use their head in a dire situation, but overall, these twentysomethings tend to be risky and reckless.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Scarlett is like a more realistic Lara Croft; she's smart and brave and doesn't seem to lose her head in an emergency. Unfortunately, she's also a bit impetuous and tends to bend the rules, and she's more than a little obsessed with finding her treasure.

Violence

Lots of blood and gore, though not extremely over the top. The herky-jerky "found footage" camerawork never really lingers on anything for very long. Characters are injured and/or attacked while traveling around the tunnels. One character falls to his death, and a character bashes another's head against a rock, all but destroying her skull. Another character gets a gaping wound at the base of his neck. There are realistic cave-ins, plus nightmare sequences with ghosts and other creepy creatures. Also, the movie has some tense, claustrophobic moments.

Sex

The characters stumble upon a ritual in the tunnels in which a few women are briefly shown topless. Otherwise, two of the main characters have a somewhat bickering-flirty relationship, and they eventually confess their feelings for each other, even if there's no time to act on them.

Language

"F--k" and "s--t" are each used a handful of times, as is "oh my God." "A--hole" and "hell" are used once or twice.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

One character is shown casually drinking a cocktail in an early nightclub sequence.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that As Above/So Below is a "found footage" horror movie about archeologists seeking treasure in the catacombs beneath the streets of Paris. There's some brief but strong gore when characters are injured or attacked in the tunnels. Characters die, plenty of blood is shown, and there are some gory injuries (a smashed skull, a gaping neck wound, etc.). There are also some scary moments -- from cave-ins and claustrophobia to ghosts and creepy creatures. Language is fairly strong, including several "f--k"s and quite a few uses of "s--t." There's some brief female toplessness, and two characters have a kind of bickering-flirty relationship. The movie definitely has its spooky moments, and older teen horror fans will no doubt be interested.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byVacuum_Cleaner_Man October 9, 2014

Historical Horror

If you enjoy a little history and horror this is a must see. They give pretty accurate information in the movie about the catacombs. Also not many jump scares b... Continue reading
Parent of a 13 year old Written bySongbird21 September 3, 2014

Depends how mature your child is

This was my daughter's first rated R film. She's 13. I will admit thought that it may not be for every 13 year old because my daughter is oddly mature... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byJohn trevor December 26, 2014
Teen, 16 years old Written byBawwy wazzy September 6, 2014

What's the story?

During a dangerous trip to the Middle East, young archeologist Scarlett (Perdita Weeks) discovers the key to translating a clue left by alchemist Nicolas Flamel about the possible location of the legendary Philosopher's Stone. With the help of her indignant but loyal friend George (Ben Feldman), who can translate, Scarlett discovers that the stone may reside in a secret tunnel in the catacombs beneath the streets of Paris. She finds a guide, Papillon (François Civil); along with his fearless crew and documentary filmmaker Benji (Edwin Hodge), Scarlett and George descend into the spooky passages. What they find there extends beyond any kind of history or alchemy and comes closer to a personal kind of horror.

Is it any good?

Filmmaker John Erick Dowdle (Quarantine, Devil) and his co-writer, brother Drew Dowdle, have assembled a collection of terrific ideas for AS ABOVE/SO BELOW. But unfortunately they've also chosen the inexpensive but played out "found footage" approach, which is useful for all kinds of sudden jump-shocks but also makes for a shaky, nausea-inducing viewing experience. Other annoying horror movie cliches turn up, too, including the fate of an African-American character.

But the good parts help make up for the weaknesses. Scarlett is like the child of Indiana Jones and Lara Croft; she's smart, brave, and adventurous and would be a great subject for sequels. What's more, her brains come in handy during tense moments, which is rare for horror films. The hunt to solve the puzzle and find the stone is mixed with some effective (if somewhat lazy) attempts at old-fashioned scares; ultimately the good ideas tend to outweigh the bad ones, and AS ABOVE/SO BELOW rises up as a decent effort.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about As Above/So Below's violence and gore. How much is shown, and how quickly? What effect do these scenes have? Are there any other scenes without gore? How effective are they?

  • Is Scarlett a positive role model? Which of her traits are worth emulating? Which aren't?

  • Is the movie scary? What elements were scary. and which don't work so well? Why? What makes a good horror movie?

  • What's the appeal of the "found footage" subgenre of horror? How would the movie have been different if it had been filmed more traditionally? How would this technique work on other kinds of movies?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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