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As Above, So Below | 2014 | R | - 2.7.9

An urban archaeologist (Perdita Weeks) seeks the key to immortality: Drawn to the Catacombs of Paris, she enlists the help of two men (Ben Feldman and Edwin Hodge) to hunt for a magic relic. Also with Francois Civil, Marion Lambert and Ali Marhyar. Directed by John Erick Dowdle. Some dialogue is in foreign languages (French and Middle Eastern tongues) without subtitles. [1:33]

SEX/NUDITY 2 - A woman wears a variety of off-the-shoulder sweaters that reveal a bra strap; in one scene, we see a small amount of the top of one breast and in another scene, her sweater is wet, revealing the outline of both breasts. Several women in a nightclub wear short dresses while other women wear sparkly bra-like tops with long skirts, revealing midriff and substantial cleavage. Several female singers wear long strapless tube dresses. A woman leans toward the camera and we see a bit of cleavage.
 A woman hugs a colleague whom she once dated. A woman hugs a man as they find a treasure room in a cave. When a man is injured, a woman kisses him on the forehead and tells him he will be OK. A woman hugs a man and cries after a harrowing experience.
 A woman says that another woman who is talking to her ex-boyfriend on a sidewalk is pretty. A man says that a woman is pretty and has great legs (her dress reveals her knees and lower legs).


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VIOLENCE/GORE 7 - The bulk of the film occurs in dark underground rooms, well shafts and the tunnels of the Catacombs of Paris, and some passageways and rooms that are very narrow and with low ceilings; handheld camera work is often shaky and many scenes are shadowy, murky and blurred; we continually hear cracking walls or ceilings, eerie whispering, metallic musical tones, male and female screams, shouts and roars along with distant chanting.
 A man jumps out of the shadows to growl and roar at each of two men and a woman, as well as the camera; he grabs each person, beats their head into a stone floor, leaves their heads and faces bloody and runs off screen as the people are left to die on the stone floor; a man cries over the woman and covers her head with a jacket while a woman cries over one of the men and when the last victim dies, the remaining three people shudder and run away down a hallway. Stone faces with mouths in the shape of a scream come alive and pull their bodies out of a wall, chasing people and beating them, leaving them dirty and bloody; we hear screaming from the stone people and the human people as the screen darkens to blurred images and one of the creatures bites a man on the arms and throat, creating a blood flow, but two people drag him away from the creatures, who run off-screen. A woman runs past the dead body of a male friend on the floor and scrapes bits of a stone onto the injured man's throat, which heals instantly (bloodstains and splatter cover his shirt, her torn sweater as well as the shirt and face of another man).
 A car in a tunnel sits engulfed in flames with a man shown in the back seat with blistered facial skin and his body and hair are on fire; the burning man grabs one of the team members and drags him into the car, at which point the car disappears and we see the victim's lower legs and feet sticking straight up out of a stone floor while we hear his screams inside the floor ("I didn't do it!"). Several men pull down a gate from a treasure room, resulting in a cave-in and five people cough loudly and pull a woman from under the debris as we see blood covering her forearms and face; another woman scrapes bits of a red stone onto one forearm of the injured woman and it heals instantly. A dead man hanging from a noose appears in several hallways and in one scene a woman pulls a hood from his head revealing a grayish face that screams; she runs away, then comes back and hugs the body.
 A woman says to the camera that trespassing in off-limits caves in Iran is punishable by a burial up to the neck in sand and a guide leads her to a hole in his living room wall that they enter together, descending into caves as we hear police and air raid sirens off-screen and a loud male voice in a foreign language repeating a strong announcement; bombs burst outside as the woman discovers a valuable statue engraved with words in a foreign language and a dead man in a trench coat hanging by the neck from the ceiling of a dimly lit passageway; an explosion makes the passageway black with a few sparks flashing and the camera cuts to the guide pulling the woman back through the hole in his wall as the guide says that searchers for the Flamel Stone all wind up dead.
 A woman wades through a pool of red slimy blood that reaches her chest and she becomes covered in it; we see hands and forearms of a person reaching out from the water toward the camera when she climbs out and we see her wade back through later; the woman is terrified and her face is covered with thick blood.
 A team opens a hole in abandoned railroad tracks in a tunnel and is slammed by some indistinct figure running toward them from deep within the tunnel; they struggle, scream and escape into another tunnel, which is wet with dripping ceilings and as they descend into additional tunnels, water levels rise from ankle to knee to waist. Several explorers use ropes to descend into well/sewer shafts in order to tunnel deeper; we hear that one man suffers rope burns and later see his hands wrapped with bandages and smeared with some blood.
 A woman uses a rock to smash open a passageway under a thin stone floor where people jump down. Several people reach a familiar room when a woman says that the frescoes and icons are backwards and upside down and the door is on the opposite wall form where it had been.
 Explorers argue loudly about a dead end in a tunnel and one man says that the way was bricked up because no one who went that direction ever returned; a woman argues loudly with him while pulling rocks out of the entrance and the team crawls over an incline full of long bones and skulls (the people become dusty and muddy, coughing and gasping); one man becomes stuck and panics (he gasps, hyperventilates and shouts as a woman off-camera yells and continues to yell at him, making him more panicked; the man climbs out of his stuck position and something collapses loudly around him as the screen goes black (we hear female screams and much coughing); when the screen brightens, we see the group back in a room where they were previously and they shout at one another and curse in anger until one woman digs stones out of a blocked doorway to end the sequence. Candles light a tunnel passageway where we hear odd singing and we see women singing a type of hymn in a foreign language; their eyes show large black circles of makeup completely around them.
 On a narrow incline filled with long bones, a man looks down and sees the face of his young brother from years before, swimming in water and he panics, at which point the face disappears. In a corner, a light flashes and we see the figure of a young boy (presumably a ghost) briefly.
 A darkly dressed, indistinct figure runs quickly past a doorway in the background. A straight-back chair in a dark room and it initially appears empty, then contains a figure covered in a robe, and then is empty again. A hooded figure wearing a metallic mask chases a man, then several hooded figures approach from the background, and then disappear. Several men and women explore the Catacombs of Paris and meet a strange man called The Mole living there. People hear a loud telephone ring in a stone and brick tunnel and the ringing continues until they find a dusty phone on a table against a corner; a woman answers it and hears an indistinct male voice, and then hangs up. People in a tunnel find a piano that turns out to be that which one of the men played as a child. An empty noose hangs in a hallway. Along one wall, we see stone faces with gaping, screaming mouths. In each of two rooms, we see a well-preserved 700-year-old Knight Templar lying on a table, the first one looking asleep and the second individual looking a bit like stone.
 A woman says that one can die in the Catacombs, if injured or lost. A man states that 6,000,000 corpses lie here and we see piles and whole walls made of stacked long bones and skulls. A woman remarks that legends say the place is the gateway to Hell and then finds an engraved stone stating, "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here," which she says marks the place as Hell. A woman argues continually with three men, sometimes loudly. We hear that a male archaeologist became psychotic and committed suicide in his quest for a relic with life-giving properties. We hear that a man on the team once almost drowned in a tunnel. We hear that rats live in the tunnels, but never see any. We hear that a female archaeologist holds a black belt in Krav Maga but never see any related moves. A woman says that two caskets were empty when opened by grave robbers and a friend tells her that he ended up in a Turkish prison after searching for a stone. We hear that a man on the team has a scar on one hand that no one wants to discuss (we do not see it). We hear that a team descends to 370 feet below street level and then farther to 1,000 feet below. A man says that his brother died when they were children and he could not save him. A man says that he has a child that he has been denying. A woman says that she felt responsible for her father's suicide. A railroad tunnel is lined with graffiti, including the F-word. Six people find a pool of water in a cave and dive into it, finding a wall opening that leads to a treasure room where a small fire burns for light and a woman says that if they pull the wrong stone from a group of stones in a pile against a wall, a cave-in will occur.
 A woman and two men jump down a shaft and the camera cuts to a view of them rising from a stone floor, uninjured but coughing because of dust; they find a heavy manhole cover in the floor and slowly push it aside as a light glows around the edge; they see streetlights through the opening and climb through the hole, pushing the cover back into place and upside down to the camera, and they stand on a street in Paris. A woman and two men talk in a deep, dark cave and their breath is visible in the cold temperature and they find a very deep, black well shaft, but have no climbing ropes; the woman says that they must jump in to escape the Catacombs and its demons, but first must confront their individual secrets.
 End credits are accompanied by a large pentagram, a ghostly child held in the air at the back of its neck by an unseen hand, a noose hanging from a tree branch as well as a hand and forearm reaching out of a sewer opening.


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LANGUAGE 9 - About 47 F-words and its derivatives, 21 scatological terms, 1 anatomical term, 17 mild obscenities, name-calling (crazy, insane, lunatic), stereotypical references to men, women, the French, African-Americans, archaeological researchers, ghost chasers, Egyptian curses, 1 religious profanities (GD), 22 religious exclamations (e.g. Oh My God, Holy [scatological term deleted], My God, Good God, Jesus, God Forbid, God, As Is Heaven So Is Earth).


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SUBSTANCE USE - A woman uses scrapings from a magic stone twice to heal wounds on victims instantly, and a woman with cleaning chemicals and a match burns a coating off a stone tablet to reveal a message. A woman drinks a bottle of beer and a man drinks a short glass of whiskey in a nightclub scene, and mixed cocktails and short glasses of liquor are seen on tables around a nightclub.


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DISCUSSION TOPICS - Death, suicide, madness, immortality, magic substances, alchemy, demons, legends, risk-taking, danger, fear, confronting one's past, survival, resilience, truth.

MESSAGE - One cannot find eternal life among the dead.

CAVEATS

Be aware that while we do our best to avoid spoilers it is impossible to disguise all details and some may reveal crucial plot elements.

We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and older reviews are not as complete & accurate as recent ones; we plan to revisit and correct older reviews as resources and time permits.

Our ratings and reviews are based on the theatrically-released versions of films; on video there are often Unrated, Special, Director's Cut or Extended versions, (usually accurately labelled but sometimes mislabeled) released that contain additional content, which we did not review.


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