You can now read 5 articles in a month for free on BostonGlobe.com. Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

Movie Review

‘As Above/So Below’ is so below average

Perdita Weeks and Ben Feldman in “As Above/So Below.”

Legendary Pictures/Universal Pictures

Perdita Weeks and Ben Feldman in “As Above/So Below.”

When the arcane engraving on the door translates as “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here,” you should know enough not to go in unless you’ve got a pretty good guide. And if you have a PhD in symbology, speak four living languages and two dead ones, and have a black belt in some hip martial art, you should at least know that the quote is from Dante and not a “mythical inscription.” Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon certainly would have.

But not the polymathic Scarlett, played by Perdita Weeks, whose gung-ho performance is the best reason to watch this exercise in mumbo-jumbo, bogus thrills, and vertiginous photography. As a cryptic thriller it is more “Da Vinci Code” than “Divine Comedy,” a combination of video game and Indiana Jones Adventure ride. And, needless to say, it’s another found-footage horror film.

Continue reading below

Benji (Edwin Hodge) provides the footage; he’s making a documentary about Scarlett and her determination to fulfill her dead father’s obsession to find the Ark of the . . . or rather, the Philosopher’s Stone. After a prologue in an Iran cave, where she finds a pagan relic, she asks her friend George (Ben Feldman) to translate some inscriptions written in Aramaic (that class probably conflicted with her Advanced Alchemy seminar). These direct her to the Paris Catacombs, so she puts together a crew that includes the speluncaphobic George, Benji, ace urban explorer Papillon (François Civil), and
some other people needed to pad the body count.

It seems like an absorbing History Channel program until they pass a chamber full of topless women singing György Ligeti’s “Drei Phantasien Nach Friedrich Hölderlin” and start bumping into specters from their guilt-ridden past. They go in circles, see dead people, a telephone rings, up and down become interchangeable, and gargoyles and Grim Reapers pop up to do bad things that are blurred by the handheld camerawork so you can’t see how crummy the special effects are.

Is this hell? Is it purgatory? Is it an exercise in derivative mind games? Abandon all hope of recovering these 93 minutes of your life, ye who enter here.

Peter Keough can be reached at petervkeough@gmail.com.
Loading comments...
Subscriber Log In

We hope you've enjoyed your 5 free articles'

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Already a subscriber?
Your city. Your stories. Your Globe.
Yours FREE for two weeks.
Enjoy free unlimited access to Globe.com for the next two weeks.
Limited time only - No credit card required!
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.
Thanks & Welcome to Globe.com
You now have unlimited access for the next two weeks.
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.