Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Ending Of As Above, So Below Explained

After "The Blair Witch Project" came out in 1999, the "found footage" style of horror movies became really popular, and it's still commonly used today. In 2014, the horror movie "As Above, So Below" used the found footage style to depict a documentary crew's journey through the catacombs of Paris in search of Nicholas Flamel's legendary philosopher's stone. The movie stars Perdita Weeks as Scarlett Marlowe, a smart and experienced scholar who is following in her father's footsteps to search for the stone. After encountering what is known as the "Rose Key" within a cave in Iran, she is led to the catacombs of Paris, where she believes that Flamel's tomb is, along with the stone and a bunch of treasure. 

Before venturing beneath the ancient city, Scarlett rounds up a crew of fellow explorers to go with her, including her ex-boyfriend and Aramaic translator named George, played by Ben Feldman, a cameraman named Benji (Edwin Hodge), as well as a French guide known as Papillon (François Civil), whose name means "butterfly" in English, who brings along his girlfriend Souxie (Marion Lambert) and friend Zed (Ali Marhyar), a.k.a "zero." Together, they venture deeper and deeper into the strange and dangerous catacombs, facing off against unimaginable mental and physical challenges while hoping to come out with treasure and glory. But unfortunately, not everyone comes out of the catacombs alive. 

Here's the ending of "As Above, So Below" — explained. 

The Paris catacombs hide the entrance to Hell

The most important (and most confusing) part of the story in "As Above, So Below" is how the crew's journey through the catacombs is representative of Dante's "Inferno" and his journey through the nine circles of Hell. Scarlett and the others enter Hell when they first take the strange tunnel in the catacombs, but their presence there is confirmed later when they come across the message "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here" in Greek, which is the message Dante reads while passing through the gates of Hell (Digital Dante). At this point in the film, the group is quite deep into their journey through Hell so the movie doesn't present an exact replica of Dante's nine circles, but it's quite close. 

There are a lot of details in the horror film that represent the various circles of Hell, starting with the first, Limbo, where souls are stuck between Heaven and Hell. This is where the group encounters La Taupe (which means "the mole" in English), Papillon's friend who previously entered the catacombs but never returned. When Scarlett and the others meet him, he exhibits strange abilities and characteristics, and honestly, they really should be more wary of seeing La Taupe there. Instead, they trust him and follow where he leads, which is deeper into Hell. The fourth circle of Hell, Greed, is the next most important one in the film, as this is where the group finds the treasure. When they try to break in and get the riches, it ends up being a dangerous trap, as they fall victim to their greed. 

Each member of the group is tested

While the movie continues to reference all the circles, the other most important circles of Hell are seven, eight, and nine, which are violence, fraud, and treachery. Each of these play a key role in the fate of crew members Papillon, Souxie, and Benji. As the group go further down in the catacombs, and therefore further into Hell, each member of the crew is tested to see if they can overcome guilt for past mistakes. 

In the seventh circle, violence, they find La Taupe again. Souxie slowly approaches him, which ends up being a horrific mistake. La Taupe attacks her, banging Souxie's head on the ground and killing her. As you learn throughout the film, each person's troubles in Hell reflect a sin that they committed earlier in their life, the mistake that they have to either take full responsibility for or be killed. Well, although you don't really find out what Souxie did, you can guess that it has something to do with the violent death she faces. The same happens with Benji, who sees a distraught woman with a baby before falling to his death. 

Scarlett, George, Zed, and Papillon then continue on through the eighth and ninth circles, fraud and treachery, both of which connect to Papillon's sin. The group comes across a burning car with a man in it. As an example of treachery, Papillon apparently betrayed the man in the past, leading to him burning to death in a car. But when confronted with it, Papillon is unable to admit his guilt, and so the vision consumes and kills him. 

Scarlett, George, and Zed learn their lesson

Thankfully, a few members of the crew learn the right lesson, and so Scarlett, George, and Zed understand that they must face their past in order to survive and get out of Hell — literally. For Scarlett, this ends up being her father's suicide. Throughout "As Above, So Below," Scarlett experiences visions of a hanged man and a phone ringing, which is later revealed to reference the night that her father died by suicide. Before his death, her father tried to call her but Scarlett never answered the phone, leading to the guilt that still sticks with her. Scarlett faces her past and apologizes to her father for ignoring his call and not being there, passing her test. 

For George, his guilt stems from his brother's accidental death when they were younger. Apparently, his brother got his leg stuck in something while submerged in water, and George went to get help but got lost. When he finally returned, his brother was dead. With Zed, one of the more minor characters in the film, he admits to having a child somewhere who he knows is his, yet he still hasn't claimed the child as his own. 

After facing their guilt, the group finds a long, dark tunnel going down, and in a literal leap of faith, the group jumps in, falling for a long time before landing clumsily yet alive. They then find a manhole on the ground that leads to the outside world, bringing them back to the real Paris. Along with including the nine circles of Hell, the movie also plays with the aspect of Dante's journey through the center of the earth to see everything inverted, which Scarlett and the group also go through, explaining their confusing experience getting out. 

Everything starts and ends with the philosopher's stone

Overall, the whole story of "As Above, So Below" is connected through Scarlett's search for Flamel and the philosopher's stone. She does eventually find it, but the stone — and the journey to get to it –is not exactly as she expected. When the group enters the fourth circle of Hell, greed, they enter a tomb that can be assumed to be Flamel's, with an old yet undecayed body of a Templar Knight inside. Near the treasure, they also find the philosopher's stone in an image on the wall — or so they think. The stone gives Scarlett the ability to heal the others' wounds, but only once, as it's actually a fake. Even the stone itself is a test. 

When the group is in the ninth circle, after Papillon dies, George is injured by a creature in the catacombs, but when Scarlett attempts to use the stone to heal him, she realizes it's a fake and that she must return the item to receive the true philosopher's stone. Traveling back through even worse conditions, including a trench of blood, Scarlett completes the mission. But instead of receiving another physical stone, Scarlett realizes that she has taken on the abilities of the stone herself, proving through her actions and faith in the stone's power that she is worthy of wielding it. She returns to George and is able to heal his wounds. 

Finally out of Hell and back on the streets of Paris, Scarlett, George, and Zed are the only survivors. Having actually found and gotten the powers of the philosopher's stone — losing a lot in the process — what might Scarlett do next?