Earlier this month I had the chance to see As Above So Below (AASB), a low budget "found footage" horror movie set in the catacombs below Paris. The primary protagonist is Scarlett, a highly intelligent British "urban archeologist" who is trying to track down a mystical item that was lost to time. Sound a bit familiar? She's even got some daddy issues to work out and has nose for danger.
That's right, Scarlett is a thinly veiled Lara Croft clone and after watching it I realized that AASB might have been the best Lara Croft movie ever committed to celluloid. Before I answer why let's dig into the Lara Croft movies.
Over a decade ago Hollywood cranked out two big budget Lara Croft movies starring Angelia Jolie as Lara Croft. They were big budget summer movies with Lara Croft crisscrossing the globe tracking down various mysterious MacGuffins. The films did OK at the box office but with the second movie doing about half as much as the first, the film incarnation of Ms. Croft came to an end. What the films lacked in coherence they made up with special effects and loud noises.
Comparatively speaking As Above So Below is a much smaller and constrained story. In some ways Perdita Wells Scarlett is a much better Lara Croft as she has to rely on her wits and intelligence to solve problems rather than an array of guns and gadgets. She's certainly a better representation of the version of Lara Croft that we saw in the Tomb Raider reboot as she's still learning what she can do and is a bit on the vulnerable side.
It's difficult to talk about the character progression in the film without spoiling too much but ASSB even feels like a video game movie in terms of pacing and how the characters solve the various puzzles they come across in the game. It does help that the movie is presented mostly in the first person as all of the characters have cameras on their head.
It's worth noting that As Above So Below is not a great movie but it's a bit better than it's Rotten Tomatoes rating indicates. There are plot holes galore, a reliance on horror movie tropes, and the acting is all over the place. The trailers for the film spoil some of the better scares from the flick so if you can go in without seeing them you'll get a bit more out of the film. Here's the trailer but I encourage you to stop at the 1:30 mark so as to not spoil any of the stuff from the last act of the film.
I hope that if the Tomb Raider franchise ever gets back to the silver screen that it takes some cues from As Above So Below as the film deserves a bit more love than it has gotten so far.