by Bill Johnson
This movie offers a good example of what happens when a movie is mostly plot with very little story. Story, in most successful Hollywood films, revolves around a character who embodies some issue of human need, with the character set in motion to resolve that issue by a story's plot.
As Above, So Below takes just a few moments to introduce something that drives the main character, a young woman, who has conflicted feelings about her father's suicide, and seconds to introduce the young man who helps her and his unresolved guilt over a younger brother's death. Then it's off to the crypts under Paris and about 30 minutes of a group of people trying to find a hidden chamber. There are a few 'boo' moments, but mostly its just more of the same as minor characters die in turn.
Toward the end of the film, the young woman comes across the hanging body of her father and she reconciles with him by hugging his hanging corpse. Her helper, also in a few moments, reconciles with his dead younger brother.
What drives these characters is resolved in seconds, leaving in its wake people walking through tunnels, crawling through tunnels, or running through tunnels, with the minor characters dying at a predictable rate.
The Descent, a film about some women cave diving, showed how this kind of plot could be in the service of a story.
It's oft repeated that a film generally needs to have a main character the audience chooses to feel invested in or care about. Films can violate that if they offer something else. As Above, So Below doesn't.
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