I usually try and start my articles with some insightful waffling, but tonight I am just going to come out with it. This film is a terrible abomination which should have been destroyed before it made it out of the studio. The idea was ok, the story line terrible, some interesting elements which if they had built on them would have made it up to a mediocre film, the acting was poor at best and I think that they spent all the budget on one special effect.
Right, now I have you chomping at the bit to read about this film…There are spoilers and if you intend to watch this film (which I strongly advise against) then maybe come back and read this at a later date, where as if you just want to see me in fully Cranky force, settle in…
The story line of this is pretty much a Lara Croft wannabe researching the Philosophers stone. She finds the Rose key in a cave in Iran, narrowly escapes being crushed by the collapsing cave, and the for some unknown reason travels to Paris. She then sweet talks her ex in to helping her, and gathers a rouge crew to take her into the catacombs. There are some cool elements of set with piled up skulls and bones, and some people who appear to be worshiping something ancient, but they are never really referred to again. The bunch find a couple of ways to get through the catacombs, one way is quicker, but the leader of the crew explains no one has got through that way alive, so manages to persuade them to take the other more claustrophobic route. Each member of the team has some paranoia, either about confined spaces, or water or darkness or whatever – I don’t know I was never really committed to any of the characters, so each element of the film is built to play on that paranoia…badly.
As the bunch work through the catacombs they find a friend of the crew that was presumed dead, who looks a bit like Lurch from the Adams family, and things start to get strange. The friend agrees to guide them out the catacombs, but he tells them the only way out is down. Obviously, everyone would trust a guy that has been presumed dead and has apparently been living on air for a while, so he starts to lead them downwards. The crew find some treasure and philosophers stone, but one gets crushed as rocks fall from the roof (polystyrene don’t worry), but the philosophers stone healers her, and they find the Gnostic star indicating “As above, so below”… yes I was groaning…
From here, I will admit I got confused, the team travel through reflections of the rooms they have already been through, seemingly one dying in each room (the best was one being dragged in to a burning car, which then imploded in on itself, leaving just his leg sticking out the ground). Apparently this was to make the crew admit to their fears and realise the only way out was to accept their failings.
Only 3 of the crew get out, and to be honest I was rooting for them to get stuck in the catacombs too.
I actually can’t fully explain the end as it didn’t make sense to me, much like the rest of the film. I can’t fully explain how frustrated and unimpressed I was with this.
The whole thing is shot as if it is found footage, which wholly contributes to the confusion. It is just shaky camera action which only really added to very few parts. There are huge chunks of information missing which would have made the story a lot more enjoyable if they had taken away the found footage element and concentrated a lot more on the actual legend they were trying to present.
You’ll also notice I haven’t quoted any of the actors, as frankly they aren’t worth the mention, as the polystyrene rocks gave a better performance than the cast.
This could have been amazing if they had explained what the philosophers stone was (a stone believed to turn base metals into gold or silver and also known as the elixir of life which can rejuvenate) or if they had explained why there were so many jumbled icons within just one area of the catacombs (Egyptian hieroglyphs and the Gnostic star in the same place…would have been good to explain that). Also why were the worshipers there in the catacombs? That is never explained, nor are many, many, many other things with this movie which just left me frustrated as a viewer.
This film was made in 2014 and was directed by John Erik Dowdle who also was a co writer with his brother Drew. This probably started as a drunken night after playing a bit of tomb raider, or watching Angelina Jolie and thinking they could do it better. I hate to break it to them… they can’t.
There are many sub plots set up that lead to no where (and I hope that these don’t mean sequels), just seeming like the writers got bored or forgetful as they put this together.
Obviously under the banner of “found footage” that can mean low quality and that is definitely what you get in this, with dodgy low lighting, and poor effects, but it is never as poor as the clipped English accent of the lead actress.
In all honesty, if some more thought had gone into this, other than writing something down on the back of a fag packet and hoping for the best, this film could have been something marvelous as it had the makings of a sturdy horror, but the complete lack of detail ruins it all the way through.
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