Movies and TV
As Above / So Below Brings Fictional Horrors to the Real Paris Catacombs

Elizabeth Harper | 28 Aug 2014 16:00
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We talked to writer/director duo John and Drew Dowdle about their new horror flick, filmed on location in the catacombs below Paris.

At first glance, Legendary's upcoming horror flick As Above / So Below -- out this weekend -- seems to be a pretty standard horror archetype. After all, a group of people trapped together in a confined space who are confronted by their deepest fears could describe the better part of the entire genre. It's the execution of this base idea that makes As Above stand out, shot in a found footage style in the actual Paris Catacombs over six weeks. Being shot on location -- it was the first film to shoot in a number of off-limits sections of the catacombs -- using a Red Epic camera and helmet cameras on all of the actors means that the footage has an immediacy that really ups the horror factor.

To find out just where this film came from, we sat down with the creative team behind it: brothers John Erick Dowdle and Drew Dowdle. The duo wrote the script together and John serves as director while Drew serves as producer -- and both were on-hand to work through the challenges of this unique location shoot.

The film's premise is straightforward: archeologist Scarlett Marlowe (Perdita Weeks) is hunting for the mythical Philosopher's Stone, a chase which leads her to the Paris Catacombs. The main character was always meant to be a woman -- the Dowdles cite influences like Ellen Ripley from Alien and Sarah Connor from Terminator -- and she's not there just to scream at opportune moments like some horror story heroines. "I always liked those movies and it just felt right for this," explains John. "There's nothing more fun than seeing a badass female lead."

The idea for the character of Scarlett came well before the rest of the movie -- but when Legendary's Thomas Tull called talking about a film set in the Paris Catacombs, the Dowdles knew Scarlett would be a perfect fit. "Drew and I had this idea that we wanted to do a kind of female Indiana Jones action character," says John. "We wanted to do it in a found footage way -- to do an epic movie but in a really personal, intimate scale." The character, the setting, and the style just clicked together.

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