Thursday, March 5, 2015

Found Footage Can Still Suck It.

I will say it again and again, found footage films can eat a bag of dicks.  They're cheap, they're disorienting and I'm tired of them. 

But here's the thing.  I found one that I almost like.  Almost.

See, this here is a found footage film for art history and antiquities majors.  I appreciate that, not because I'm an art history or antiquities major, but because I do enjoy a thoughtful movie from time to time.  The title, As Above, So Below comes from the basic tenet of alchemy and Hermeticism, "That which is Below corresponds to that which is Above, and that which is Above corresponds to that which is Below, to accomplish the miracle of the One Thing" and the movie itself is an abridged version of a journey through the seven circles of Hell a la Dante's Inferno.

And it's a good damn thing that Inferno is in the Public Domain because somebody would be pantsless for a long time after the lawyers got through with them.  Meh, who needs pants?  I don't.  I'm pantsless right now.

Hey!  Let's fuck with a priceless fucking antique in a museum!  Loads of fun.

ANYWAY, a recurring theme in the movie is that they have to keep going down.  Down through the fucking catacombs of Paris.  Because that's a direction everybody wants to head.  Even their buddy La Voule (The Mole) who basically just wanders around down there in a daze because he's stuck in fucking boneyard purgatory.   Much like watching Catacombs, that abysmal movie with P!nk in it by FearNet. 

So, yeah, they have to keep going down because the only way out of Hell is through the very bottom of the very last circle.  In the meantime, another motto of alchemy is "VISITA INTERIORA TERRAE RECTIFICANDO INVENFIES OCCULTUM LAPIDEM" or "V.I.T.R.I.O.L." (a term that people who play White Wolf's "Prometheus" should recognize right out of the gate).  The phrase translates to "Visit the Earth's interior parts; by rectification you shall find the hidden stone".  Remembering that the purpose of Hell is to punish sinners for wrongdoing in order to make their souls right enough for Heaven (which apparently never works because "eternity" is neverending by design, should you believe in that sort of thing) the phrase in the movie's case lends itself to characters that "rectify" their own perceived wrongdoings, such as Scarlet's self-imposed guilt over her father's suicide or George's undeserved guilt over his brother's death, neither of which they were truly guilty.  Vitriol is another name, by the way, of sulfuric acid.which means that it literally rectifies things by eating away at the surface and revealing what's underneath.  HA, HA!!  Now we get it.  Get on with your bad self pretentious director-man!

See, I would have actually stopped because it tells me to.  I'm rebellious but I'm not fucking stupid.

Now, all of the artsy-fartsy shit being said, let's talk about why this is not so great a film.  First off, it's TOO artsy-fucking-fartsy.  I'm all about intelligence, don't get me wrong.  I appreciate some brains with my slaughter (See what I did there?) but fuck me if this was some high-brow shit.  There's no way I could watch this with some of my friends.  I'd spend half of the movie explaining what shit meant and no, I don't like talking through movies unless it's someone saying "I seem to have lost half of my foot in a freak stadium seating accident, can you excuse me, please?" or "I'm sorry.  My water just broke and that's why the floor is all sticky.  May I pass and buy you a new pair of size 10 1/2 Joker chuckies?"

Meh, partie deux, because it needs to be said in fucking French, is that it's disorienting and confusing.  I know I said that before but because I like CLARITY in all things unless I'm on the good post-surgery drugs, it needs to be said again.  This movie needs to be followed constantly to get it and, seriously, there are some things you need to frame advance on your blu-ray player to even see which make the movie make a little more sense.  But only a little because, dammit, this is art-house horror.  Bitch, if I want confusing horror, I'll watch L.A. Zombie.  At least with Bruce LaBruce I'll get porn out of the deal.

Dead babies.  Always good for a laugh.  Only not.
Et enfin (That's "and finally"), while there's decent exposition as to why they need to get into the catacombs, there's too much that doesn't get an explanation at all, like the cult people that are just kinda hangin' out down there, moving all spooky-like and just generally being a pain in the ass.  You know I hate dumbing shit down but SOME background would be nice. 

To wrap this up, the concept and premise of As Above So Below were kind of awesome but the delivery made my head hurt.  It's not a bad watch but it's not a great one either and it could probably have been told better without relying on the found footage format.  I say if your audience has to watch it twice to get shit in the beginning of the movie that's almost but not quite explained at the end, you have failed as a storyteller.


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