Underneath Paris, deep in the catacombs, the caves are rumored to contain the ever infamous Philosopher's Stone. An archaeologist, her small team of a cameraman and best friend, pay a tour guide to sneak into off-limits section of the tunnels in search of the jewel.
This movie is a first-person experience that came out right near the middle/end of the found footage craze. Due to that, this film got lost in the sea of FF's at release. But this film has a lot going on that not all do. The story of the stone itself is routed in real mythology and plays upon some internalized philosophical quests - the catacombs are a labyrinth that requires them to descend further and further downward into (quite literally) the Gates of Hell.
"Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here" is engraved in the stone above a mysterious doorway that appears in the stone, and once they pass through it seals itself shut behind them. While in the catacombs they are confronted by demons, booby traps, and even a cult at one point. Each demon is personal and each one confronts them in aggressive, unexpected ways.
The found footage aesthetic is played smartly to the degree that this film may not have done so well if it wasn't first person. But the claustrophobic pathways, the abundance of water tunnels and caved in ceilings create a scary atmosphere that plunges the viewer directly into it and grabs hold of your psyche. At the halfway point, our characters do in fact find the treasure, but of course it can never be that easy. Another scribbled phase on the wall, 'as above, so below' is just as much a warning as it is a literal translation. It's a swift roller coaster that goes to some absurd places and ends as crazy - and appropriately - as it can.
If this one has missed your radar, I highly suggest it. I revisit it once a year and it's just as immersive as it was back then (especially with headphones). It has some creative scares and an atmosphere that is practically addictive - which taps you right into the mind of our main jewel hunter.
"As Above, So Below" is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
'Til Next Time, Mike Cleopatra