Quick Hit: A waste of a good atmosphere.
Slightly known fact – I used to be really into finding haunted places around the St. Louis area. Along with that, I also read up about a lot of famous haunted places. One of those places is the Parisian Catacombs, where are literally lined with the skulls of the dead. Just pictures of the place are enough to be slightly creepy – combine that with the fact that it’s a hotbed for paranormal activity, and it’s right under the streets of Paris and that’s a great set up. So when I heard that there was a film that had secured the rights to film within the Catacombs for a horror movie, I was intrigued, and I added it to Shannon and I’s “Movies to Watch in 2018” list.
I made an unfortunate decision. However unlikely it may be, a found footage horror within the Parisian Catacombs turned out poorly. Allow me to detail why I thought so.
There are really two documentaries that form the film – the first is detailing Scarlett (Perdita Weeks) first expedition, in which her father straight hangs himself before stuff blows up. The second is when she puts together an expedition to look for the Philosopher’s Stone (Harry Potter fan’s rejoice). She goes and gets a translator who speaks Arabic, because it’s the one language she doesn’t speak, and supposedly is needed in the catacombs. Enter George (Ben Feldman from Cloverfield) as the guy who is handsome enough to meet up with Scarlett. Will the romantic sparks fly as they are surrounded by skulls? We can only watch and find out.
The cast is rounded out by the typical horror cast – nothing that is spectacular or groundbreaking. That’s unfortunately true of their acting as well. No one really gives a very convincing performance for those that would be jumping into the gates of hell. And there’s even more of the typical horror movie stupidity here that you just have a hard time excusing - when you see a bunch of people in robes dressed up like they’re about to go all Eyes Wide Shut and have a ritual sacrifice… maybe turn around? Go home for the day? Come back later?
The director/writer John Erick Dowdle also doesn’t do much with an extreme unique set up. There’s very little that takes place to really capitalize on the set. Outside of one or two scenes that truly focus on the claustrophobia, there’s pretty much nothing to tie this movie to the fact it takes place underground surrounded by human skulls. When the movie does tie into the almost Descent level of trapped that these people are, it’s much better. But that also doesn’t mean we have to have people continually state “this is our only way out”. We know that – it’s in the fact that there’s no other door.
There are only a few factors that keep this from being a complete and total waste of time – the location being one of them. Combine that with the occasional, interesting film perspective (like going down into a hole only to emerge upward) and you have some factors that show that this movie was merited in the first place. I even liked the found footage way of shooting it – it seems like the appropriate format for a movie like this. But, it kind of sucks that the movie is pretty much a waste. I’m giving it a “D+”.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"