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'As Above, So Below' review: Don't bother

Perdita Weeks and Ben Feldman in a scene

Perdita Weeks and Ben Feldman in a scene from "As Above, So Below." Credit: AP

"Abandon all hope, ye who enter here," is the inscription uncovered by a gang of 20-something treasure hunters in this catacomb-hopping horror flick. But the warning could easily apply to viewers checking out this hopeless mash-up of a dozen other found-footage movies that have clogged the screens over the last five years.

Hardly credible, even for a film claiming that the gates of hell lie a few hundred feet below Paris, this low-budget effort from director John Erick Dowdle and writer-producer-brother Drew Dowdle provides a few late scares after plenty of eye-rolling setup, with those scares due more to the heavy sound design than the action itself.

First seen wearing a headscarf as she explores an off-limits cavern in Iran, tomb raider Scarlett (Perdita Weeks) claims to be a black belt in Capoeira while holding a doctorate from University College London. She's continuing her dead father's lifelong quest to discover the legendary, eternal-life giving Philosopher's Stone. (Yes, the same one from Harry Potter, though this specimen happens to be found in France.)

Teaming with an expat clockmaker (Ben Feldman, Ginsberg on "Mad Men") who also speaks fluent Aramaic, and a guy named Benji (Edwin Hodge, "The Purge") who's been brought on as the requisite cameraman-who-keeps-shooting-at-all-costs, Scarlett uncovers clues that lead her to the Paris catacombs, which house the bones of six million dead, buried there up through the late 19th century. The three Americans then contract the services of three spelunking Frenchies (Francois Civil, Marion Lambert, Ali Marhyar) and together they head underground, the treasure hunt taking them farther and farther down as things inevitably get out of hand.

Cue up lots of stinging sound effects, eerie chanting, rats and a slew of lame paranormal gags whereby each character is forced to face his or her own inner demons. But the characters are all so brazenly one-dimensional that "As Above" never passes the credibility test from the get-go, only partially salvaged by a few chilling moments that pop up near the end.

PLOT A bunch of 20-somethings hunt for treasure in the catacombs of Paris.

RATING R (bloody violence and terror, language throughout)

CAST Ben Feldman, Perdita Weeks


BOTTOM LINE Stay away. Far away.

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