Friday, September 5, 2014

The Only Way Out Is Down

The Only Way Out Is Down...


With several awful displays of creativity hitting the movie theaters as of late, As Above, So below takes a stab at bringing a fresh backdrop to the table for horror flicks. In the opening scene of the trailer, we as the audience are introduced to a woman named Scarlett (Perdita Weeks – The Invisible Woman) who is a student in urban archeology. It is important to note here that there are no genuinely prominent stars acting in the film, however some are recognizable, other examples being Ben Feldman from TV series Mad Men and Edwin Hodge from The Purge: Anarchy. This helps the viewer to ‘surrender’ more to the storyline and its creepy elements, and focus less on who the actors are. In terms of the plot, right from the get-go it is sort of obvious that Scarlett, and undoubtedly other archeologists like her, are going to go on some lunatic quest to uncover some deep dark secret. This is a standard, and unfortunately rather worn-out, plotline for contemporary horror movies (Chernobyl Diaries comes to mind). We are then told that a system of channels, the Paris Catacombs, can potentially lead to this unearthed secret, down below to a point directly 370 feet below the streets of Paris. Scarlett, and her ambitious but seemingly naïve cluster of archaeologist friends, will use the Paris Catacombs to reveal a valuable piece of history. This small part of the trailer really grind my gears, for no other reason than trying to find a “valuable piece of history” is a really dumb thing for someone to say. Yeah, the expedition doesn’t seem too exaggerated, but the trailer could have easily gotten their point across while being far less ambiguous. The tone at this point feels pushed, and the trustworthiness of the story is rather moderate. This sadly begins to itch with a thumb down for the movie’s Ethos. On the other hand, I will admit that using the Paris Catacombs as the movie’s setting was a pretty cool idea. It was a smart move by the producers to use such a recognizable location, because even though some people may not have heard of the Paris Catacombs, and most probably haven’t visited the Paris Catacombs, it’s very easy for us as the audience to wrap our heads around. It makes the experience more true to life. For this reason, the Logos stands strong. From Everything’s an Argument, "people tend to associate facts and reason with verbal arguments, but here too, visual elements play an essential role." It’s easy to reason with the fact that the Paris Catacombs are a pretty creepy place, with some pretty creepy things going on down there. So maybe the trailer isn't super convincing--but the visual aspects definitely push in the right direction. The idea of the world's largest "grave site" with thousands of dead bodies accumulating over hundreds of years--now that's scary. Thus far, the trailer relies on hyped up emotions and disturbing imagery. The trailer’s only textual imagery is used to offer more information on the catacombs, when they were built, how many people have died and been buried there, etc., which helps greatly to amp up the reliability of the story's facts. The use of a handheld first-person point of view camera also offers some sturdiness.

As the movie trailer progresses, we now see that indeed there is some strange stuff beginning to unravel. The team of archeologists makes their way further and further down the tunnels, and a pile of rocks blunders down on top of them, conveniently blocking their way back to the surface. They pass by several hundred human skulls, and the actors begin to get freaked out. Nearly the entire trailer is dark, the music is suspenseful, the paths taken are narrow and claustrophobic. From Everything’s an Argument, "images can bring a text or presentation to life. Sometimes images have the power to persuade by pure pathos." Considering this, the emotion in the film seems to be top-notch, and therefore the Pathos could not get much better. It deserves a big thumb up for its sinister intent. And to make things even more disturbing, the characters come to find that as they travel further into the graves, their pasts come back to haunt them. Shadows bringing up mistakes they have made, and people they have wronged, to drag them further into the catacombs and through the gates of hell. So although not completely logical, and clichéd to the max, As Above, So Below is presented in such a way that is plausible, toying with emotions and dwelling on the characters’ dark pasts, of which they will meet sure consequences for. I give a rating of 3.5 pickles.

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