As Above, So Below is sometimes creepy but mostly silly, which is too bad, because the film's cramped, subterranean setting is inherently unnerving. Fearless, beautiful Scarlett (Perdita Weeks) is an English archaeologist desperate to fulfill her late father's dream of finding an ancient stone said to grant eternal life. Convinced that the stone rests in the vast catacombs beneath Paris, Scarlett persuades her brainiac former beau (Ben Feldman) to help her, along with a wily young guide (François Civil) and his two friends, who don't do much except up the film's body count.
Writer-director John Erick Dowdle (Quarantine) and his brother, co-writer Drew Dowdle, are old-school — they still believe in the found-footage genre. Scarlett and company, which includes Benji the documentarian (Edwin Hodge), have cameras clipped to their headlamps, and when they twist and turn in panic — which is often — the action becomes an indecipherable blur. The talented cast works wonders with material that's a confusing hybrid of The Descent and The Da Vinci Code (hieroglyphs abound). As Above, So Below features a gate to Hell and darting demons, but its most memorably weird moment is a sound effect younger viewers may barely recognize — the long, persistent ring of a rotary phone.
John Erick DowdleBen Feldman, Perdita Weeks, Edwin Hodge, James Pasierbowicz, Oscar Zhang, Josh KervarecDrew DowdleUniversal Pictures