My Take – I am huge fan of found footage films, I think I have mentioned that like 100 times or so, once the phenomenon begin nearly every month 4-5 films of the same genre would should up, but clearly the past few years the quality of the films started going down, until this film came along (also V/H/S 2 this year) & restored my faith in the genre! Firstly this film brings a fresh plot to the table. Bringing fresh ideas to the Horror genre is difficult, mostly because it’s difficult to find new ways to scare people. There aren’t a ton of moments that make you jump, but I think the genre isn’t really about making people jump anymore. Audiences have gotten good at predicting when these moments happen.
Here the setting is lied in: les Catacombes de Paris, one of the creepiest places in the world (surely not on my list of places to visit). The central crux of the plot hinges on a mystical stone whose existence has been buried (literally and metaphorically) by history, and the protagonist, Scarlett (Perdita Weeks), the daughter of an archaeologist and alchemy student, makes it her life goal to finish her deceased father’s work and find it. While this is admittedly fantastical and no doubt requires a slight stretching of the imagination, the historical and mythological aspects of the film still manage to be compelling none the less. For those who don’t know, the “Philosophers’ Stone” or otherwise know as the stone of the philosophers is a legendary alchemical substance said to be capable of turning base metals such as lead into gold or silver. It was also sometimes believed to be an elixir of life, useful for rejuvenation and possibly for achieving immortality. For many centuries, it was the most sought- after goal in alchemy. This movie contains BOTH the gold angles as well as the elixir of life (And its healing abilities). The best part of this film is how it has beautifully mashed these two genres together “Historical, Adventure and Horror”. Only if they had a charming & charismatic lead, this film would have been the Indiana Jones of Horror! I’ve never seen a film that has painted Hell like they did, the whole catacombs system is scary & a version of hell for claustrophobics.
This film is not for the purists amongst us, and there is indeed room for criticism, the shaky camera is not everyone’s cup of tea and at times, you are relieved when they are static for a brief moment and the motion stops, however this did not distract me from what was a thoroughly enjoyable film. The acting is good and the characters are believable for the most part. I would have cleaned up the final act a little bit more, but it was good enough to keep me satisfied. Directed and co-written by John Erick Dowdle (Devil) has made a creepy, stressful, scary thriller melded with the makings of found-footage horror, and, although at times ridiculous, I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t wildly entertaining. This movie is definitely not for movie goers who dislike “Found Footage” Or “First Person Camera” movies. Additionally it is not for movie goers who get easily sick or nauseous due to constant jerky moving camera shots.
Director – John Erick Dowdle
Rated – R
Run Time – 93 minutes