As Above So Below- A glowing review

I had pretty high expectations for As Above So Below. The subject matter/plot is totally interesting to me, so I was going to be freakin’ upset if this movie let me down. Before you get your hopes up extremely high, I will admit this isn’t some “perfect” movie. We nerds love to nit-pick at things, including stuff we love. And I could do the same for this film, but dammit, I don’t want to. I enjoyed the hell out of this movie, and I hope you do (did?) too.  Maybe you were reluctant to watch this because you scoffed and decided it was just another in a long line of “Found-Footage” horror movies. I don’t blame you there, there have been some really gawd awful movies in that style, just rudely chucked out to us like so much shark chum. However, I don’t think this movie falls into that category. This isn’t just some hastily thrown together story, I didn’t feel at least. This one has a deliberate story line. Maybe you’ve heard the synopsis. A young archaeologist and her “team” go on an expedition to the catacombs under Paris to find…treasure. She’s specifically looking for something that was her father’s life’s work, and is now her own. Okay, fine, I’ll tell you. It’s the philosopher’s stone. We know from the trailer that they find themselves in some sort of hell where demons from their past are there to haunt them. But what you may not realize is that said archaeologist (“Scarlett”)  is a fairly rad character. She’s a little obsessed with her quest, but girlfriend has her reasons. I really liked her. She’s brilliant, persistent, again a tad obsessive, brave, pretty, and has neat looking jewelry. I respect all those things. This entire story has a bit of an action-adventure vibe ala Indiana Jones. The opening scene sets the tone for that. Her team is a fun little troupe. They include Benji, who is conveniently shooting a documentary of her quest, hence how we are watching the tale unfold. Then there is George a “friend” of hers who’s a pretty adventurous and smart cookie himself. Then we have the three French people. Papillon (just don’t call him a tour guide), Souxie, and Zed. Pap and his gang are experts on navigating the catacombs and agree to “guide” the rest in return for a share of the treasure said to be with the stone. I was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t hate any characters in this movie. I’m not saying that each one was amazing, but I wasn’t actively rooting for any one of them to die, which is unusual. But the deaths were generally pretty good. I want to talk spoilers for those of us who’ve watched it. So, you may want to bow out here if I’ve peaked your curiosity enough to see it for yourself. And I hope you do see it if you had doubts at first. None of my horror watching friends have disliked As Above So Below (AASB?? Good) Did I mention it has shades of “The Descent”?? Cause…it does. And who doesn’t like that movie??  Anyway, I think if nothing else, you will be pleasantly surprised that AASB has more substance than you may have thought at first. Now, the rest of us are going into the spoiler catacombs below….

 

 

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Now entering spoiler hell.

 

 

 

 

 

So I love all the groovy, groovy stuff about magic, occultism, alchemy, Nicolas Flamel, and the philosopher’s stone. I will admit to not being an expert on any of those things, but I have a major interest in them and find them fascinating. I promise the part about liking the philosopher’s stone is not ONLY due to Harry Potter. I also think it’s great subject matter for a movie, it hasn’t been done to death for starters. Also, I am not militantly anti-remake, but I am always jazzed to see something “original” if you will that is not a remake. I liked the whole romance between Scarlett and George. It wasn’t too cheesy, it just fit well without being too forced. How about the Death Eaters who live in hell?? Those guys were something else, no? One even had a little ornate chair to sit in. Granted, it doesn’t look super ergo, but I guess this means Satan does take care of his employees to an extent. Or, how about those stone creatures? I wish there was more of them. I loved when Scarlett got violent with one too. Actually, that whole part of her being a bad ass to return the stone was fun. As I said before, I could knit-pick AASB. Analyze each choice the character made. But I don’t want to, because I had a really had a good time watching this movie. And having fun and enjoying the ride is  more important than scrutinizing details for me. Maybe I wasn’t always that way, but I am now, dammit. Anyway, I also need someone else to think the choir and the singing little church group down there was horrifying. Nay, traumatizing. That has to be real, right? Cults of people down there singing and praising in full body makeup and what not? I do believe in freedom of religion, so I think they should have at it if that is what works for them. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t freaky to the non-believers. The tension during the scene with them singing and Benjii being stuck and having a panic attack on top of Mount Femur was a high point for me. I really thought he was goner right there and then. Speaking of which, I was really surprised that we had three survivors at the end of this thing. Nice that the lil couple of lovebirds made it. And Zed too! I didn’t see Zed making it out. So to that I say, you go Zed. Way to be. You proved some of us wrong with how well you can survive a day trip to hell. Now go be a father already.

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More books for horror fans…

Here are some books I’ve read recently that my fellow horror fans may dig.

Doctor Sleep-Stephen King

All hail the King. This little gem is a sequel to “The Shining.” Now we get to catch up on what the devil Danny Torrance has been up to since childhood. It wasn’t exactly happily ever after upon leaving the Overlook hotel. Dan, as he’s now known, finds himself coming to the aid of a young girl named Abra who “shines” as well. Abra and all the other children with the shine are in danger from a nasty evil cult called the True Knot. These cultists look innocent, harmless, and non threatening. Just boring “RV-ers” you pass at truck stops and campgrounds all over America. When in actuality they sustain themselves by kidnapping  psychically gifted kids and slowly torturing them in order to “drink” in the psychic, magical steam they let off upon dying. I don’t like to spoil books, so just trust me when I say this one did not disappoint me. If you’ve read the Shining you will obviously get more out of this story since it is the sequel. Duh. 😉

Mr. Mercedes-Stephen King

Why stop at one Uncle Stevie book? For those who don’t know, King is one of my favorite authors. When I was in 8th grade, we had to pick a person we considered to be our hero to make a report on. This was to be someone from pop culture or history who we didn’t know but that we greatly admired. I was the only kid to pick an author, and it was you-know-who. The love is still strong to this day! Anyway, Mr. Mercedes was a fun little departure. I tweeted the author himself upon completion that these were some of my favorite characters of his that I’ve met. Our hero is newly retired detective Bill Hodges who remains haunted by a case he never closed. A crazy bastard in a stolen Mercedes plowed into a line of people waiting to get into a job fair at the height of the recession. Said weirdo then sends Hodges a letter basically taunting him and encouraging the man to take his own life. Only Hodges uses this opening as a chance to solve the case once and for all. Along the way he picks up a rad rag-tag little team to help him. Oh, and we also get very intimately (and chillingly)  acquainted with the killer, “Mr. Mercedes” himself, Brady Hartsfield. I encourage you all to continue you King education and give this one a read!

Seed, The Bird Eater, and The Shuddering- Ania Ahlborn

I love this lady. She spins a good horror yarn, my friends. I already talked about one of her books, The Neighbors, in a previous post. All three of these books were total page turners for me. Ania has made me a loyal fan and life-long reader for certain. Seed is about a man running from a childhood filled with horror, only to find that as an adult he is far from safe from this evil he thought he escaped. In fact, the damn thing was just waiting. Trust me when I say, shit gets really creepy… The Bird Eater is about a guy named Aaron. He is another fellow who thought he was escaping childhood trauma to once again have it revisit him and making him question his own sanity in the process. Maybe you could think of it as a haunted house novel of sorts. But it is really much more than that. These two books may sound similar, but really each is quite unique. I am really cautious to give away too many plot details since neither book is particularly long.  The Shuddering may be my favorite. The scenario is the classic “cabin the woods” vibe, only Anhlborn puts her own twist on it with the terrible monsters she pits our “heroes” against, painting a great visual in my mind of these savage and blood thirsty creatures. It made me glad I don’t live in a place where it snows…

Dark Places- Gillian Flynn

God knows I loved Gone Girl.  We all did, right? I think I may have liked this one by Flynn even more. Libby Day was the sole survivor of a “Santanic Massacre” at the hands of her own brother that resulted in her whole family being murdered. Years later she’s a pretty screwed up adult who is running out of money. So when a group of true crime enthusiasts (the “Kill Club”) offer to pay her  to uncover what really happened that night, she goes for it. You see, not every one is convinced her brother Ben was actually was the killer. But digging in the past makes Libby confront the demons and secrets she never really faced until now. As the name implies, Libby has to go into some shady places. Both of the novels I’ve read by Flynn really blew me away. She really brings her characters to life in a way I don’t think all authors are able to do. Libby herself was really fantastic. I found myself getting super attached to this seemingly “unlikable” person and really rooting for her. The novel also touches upon all those cases of “Satanic Panic” murders carried out by young people, this is a topic I find really interesting so I dug that.

Anyway, please go read any or all of these books. All would be preferable. 🙂