As Above So Below Explained- The True Story Behind The Hellish Movie
As Above So below is a personal favorite of mine. Like cult classics like the Blair Witch or new folk horror films like The Ritual (also a favorite of mine), this film’s central premise is the concept of getting lost. In this case, it’s in a historical setting. The film takes place in the Paris Catacombs, where hundreds of thousands of bones are buried a few layers below the beautiful architecture above. This creates a wonderfully gothic tone for the film, and with a maze that creates its own atmosphere, chills run down your spine. But where did they come from? And what else do the catacombs tell us about the plot of the movie?
In the 2014 film by John Erick Dowdle, a team of explorers including archeologist Scarlet are hunting for the Philosophers Stone. Hoping to bring the stone back for fortune and fame(ala Indiana Jones) she takes it and the group immidiately begin a descent into a truly terrifying reality filled with their own personal demons. Only after embracing faith can they save themselves and escape Hell.
As Above So Below was largely panned by critics for its kitschy found-footage formatting and heavy-handed messaging. Moviegoers were kinder, especially once it hit the streaming market. It gained a bit of a cult following, especially among fans of found footage. Although the plot was entirely fictional, the basis for the story is rooted in fact. Here is everything you need to know about the true story of As Above So Below.
Unfortunately, the history behind the catacombs isn’t spooky, just sad. Louis the XVI had two problems during his reign. Many quarries, which at the time had been outside of city limits, were collapsing. In addition, many common gravesites such as Saints-Innocents Cemetery were an eyesore and quickly filling up. The king decided to kill two birds with one stone; fill whatever tunnels were left over from the labyrinth of mining operations with the cemeteries’ bones. During several nighttime excavations, the mass graves were filled and later dubbed the “Catacombs” in 1786. But what happened after is a hell of a lot scarier.
The real story of As Above So Below goes like this. In the early 1990s, a group of cataphiles (people who study the catacombs legally or otherwise) decided to take a stroll through the massive maze. They stumbled across an old video camera on the ground with footage on it. The group watched in horror at the owner of the camera and his misadventures in the catacombs. Clearly lost, the man holding the camera is slowly going mad inside the underground network of unending tunnels. Strange sounds along with the man’s mad ramblings were heard during the film until he abruptly dropped the camera. Francis Freedland, one of the cataphiles that discovered the black and white footage, later would present that footage on the second episode of the ABC Family show “Scaries Places on Earth.” Many believe that this legend became the inspiration for the movie As Above So Below.
Philibert Aspairt died after getting lost in the maze in 1793. His body wasn’t found until 11 years later just yards away from an exit. But there is one more story that does more than scare tourists. An Eastern European student named Marsha also decided to go spelunking amongst the long-dead bones during an unsanctioned New Year’s Eve party in 2005, and she too was found dead.
In 2017 two teens became lost in the 150 miles of skull decorated walls. After being missing for three days police searched the Catacombs. French authorities spent a few hours searching for the couple and eventually found them thanks to rescue dogs. Although they were found safe, what lead them to become lost is a lot more concerning. Reddit poster Babybubbles97 told her story of working patrols in the tunnels and her encounter with a beast deep within. “After the 5th time, I said his ( her coworkers) name I was greeted with laughter. A lot of laughter… It came out of nowhere and filled the whole space.”
Running in a blind panic, she eventually stumbles upon her mp3 player. This, of course, was impossible. She had run in a straight line and had not doubled back at any point. The tunnels did not circle on themselves. After reaching for her mp3, the laughter stops, only to be replaced with something much scarier.” She claims to have seen a pale creature who chased her through the Catacombs and laughed as she ran. She was found 75 miles away from her designated zone, safety rope cut, and covered in a viscous black ooze. To this day she still hears the sound of its laughter outside her bedroom window, and her name chanted hungrily.
There is also the mythical Philosopher’s Stone the group is looking for in the movie. The Stone was rumored to turn ordinary metals into precious ones like gold and silver. It also had the power to heal and restore life or grant immortality to the possessor. The Stone may not have been a stone at all but a powdery substance that could be mixed into a tincture. Sir Isaac Newton and Roger Boyle both searched for it, and Nicolas Flamel claimed to have found it. He claimed using the Jewish text Kabbala he changed lead into gold. Whether that is true or not is up for debate, but he donated a huge sum of money to charity around that same time.
Not had enough? Be sure to check out the virtual tour online or the real tour in person. If you manage to find something, with anything that isn’t already dead, be sure to let the public know the truth.