Shannyn Sossamon in Catacombs (2007)

Sossamon Goes Pink Below Paris

With the words "From the producers of Saw" blazoned across the top of the "Catacombs" DVD case, I was expecting either a torture teaser in the same manner of the "Saw" movies, or at least a movie which was equally as entertaining, suspenseful and scary. Sadly I was expecting far too much, as "Catacombs" starring Shannyn Sossamon and Alicia Moore (aka Pink) is a serious disappointment, it is not a torture teaser and it is far from entertaining or suspenseful, in fact I would struggle to really class it as a Horror. The scariest things about "Catacombs" are the terrible plot, the crap characters and the fact that I managed to sit through it despite the urge to switch off after the first 10 minutes and every five minutes there after.

On a trip to visit her sister in Paris, a young American, Victoria (Shannyn Sossamon - The Holiday) is taken to an illegal rave in the Catacombs, a vast labyrinth of tunnels deep below Paris's romantic streets, where the remains of 7 million people make up the walls. When the rave gets raided by the police, she becomes separated from her friends and lost beneath the city in amongst the vast array of tunnels; where she believes that she is being chased by someone or something.

Catacombs (2007) - Shannyn Sossamon, Alicia Moore

"Catacombs" really doesn't start well, with a glimpse of a woman dancing at a rave whilst baring her chest, for me this was just titillation for the sake of it, in the blatant hope that it will grab your attention but only setting alarm bells ringing. But that isn't the real issue, right from the outset there is no real substance to the story, Victoria gets a rather brief postcard from her sister saying come to Paris and so she does all within 48 hours. The movie is then a rushed mess, flying through scenes which could aid the story by building up motivation, but instead taking us far too quickly to the illegal rave below Paris in the catacombs. Yes there are a couple of nice touches where it attempts to explain why there are 7 million people buried belwo Paris, but it does it so quickly that you could miss it if you are not paying attention and that's no easy feat.

Having given us the rather brief and rushed build up "Catacombs" grinds to a halt as it turns into purely a chase movie with Victoria running in disarray from something she believes is following her. The difference between the rushed opening and then the painfully slow, seriously dragged out chase section is such a contrast that it makes you wonder if you are watching the same movie. It is at the chase section where you are screaming out for speed, adrenalin and excitement but not once does it deliver anything close to being exhilarating. But the movies Pièce de résistance is still to come and I have to say I really didn't see the climax coming. Why? Because it is so stupid, contrived and laughable that it screamed desperation by the writers to finish this farce.

Where for me "Catacombs" really fails is by the poor casting of Shannyn Sossamon in the lead role of Victoria, the American visiting her sister. Sossamon is svelte and gorgeous but lacks any real screen presence; I would have found Duncan Norvelle running round screaming "Chase Me, Chase Me" more entertaining and endearing than Sossamon. She is far from helped by some dire and misplaced dialogue, why for the life of me would you be screaming out "Leave me alone" when you are trying to run and more importantly hide from whatever is chasing you. Her whole character and performance is a mess and at times the combination of this as well as some terrible camera work makes "Catacombs" feel like a poor copy of the "Blair Witch Project".

Sadly the movie focuses mainly on Victoria and everyone else is really of little significance. Even Victoria's sister Carolyn, played by Alicia Moore, otherwise known as singer Pink, has very little to do in the movie and most of the time she is just as annoying as Victoria. What you have in essence is one women frantically running round screaming, another who is a bitch with no real reasoning and a handful of French guys who speak no English and add nothing to the story.

The nail in the coffin for me was the way the whole movie is put together and from start to finish it alienated me. Scenes were run at double speed, presumably to try and speed up the boring bits but then went on too long and became tiresome. The choice effect of the directors seemed to be strobe lighting which I am sure went on far too long as it started giving me headaches wherever used. But the worst problem was in the chase scenes, close ups of Victoria's face made it look like she was running on the spot in a dark studio and the distance shots were boring. The whole thing failed to build up the much needed atmosphere and tension. As for being produced by the people who made "Saw", well they should stick to what they do best.

Can I find anything positive to say, well at 88 minutes it is not too long and the actual Catacombs with their walls built out of skeletons look quite impressive but that is as far as my compliments can stretch?

What this all boils down to is that for me "Catacombs" was a waste of a good idea, which struggled from the opening scenes to grab my attention and entertain me, let alone scare me. In fact the wind whistling through the rafters is far more frightening than this. If you really want to watch a screaming woman run around some tunnels for the best part of 90 minutes then I suggest renting or borrowing this rather than splashing the cash.