Would you go to a party in the Paris Catacombs?
Image from IMDB
Catacombs came out in 2007 and is directed by Tomm Coker (A Day Between 2003) and David Elliot (The Men We Wanted To Marry). The film follows Victoria, who is played by Shannyn Sassamon (40 Days and 40 Nights 2002, Sinister 2 2015), as she makes her way to Paris to visit her sister Carolyn, who is played by Alecia Moore AKA P!NK. Victoria is a very anxious woman. We see her struggle at the beginning of the film and notice that she takes antianxiety medication.
Once Carolyn picks up Victoria at the airport, they go back to Carolyn's flat, and Victoria is made the butt of the joke by Carolyn's flatmates. Then we get a great Paris montage while the two sisters go shopping for a party Carolyn has planned for later in the evening. Victoria is not excited about going to a party on her first night in Paris but ultimately gives in to her sister's pleas.
Once dressed for the party, the two sisters make their way by cab to this dark street with tons of people waiting in line. Carolyn brings Victoria to the front of the line because she knows Hugo, the bouncer (played by Cabral Ibacka). He lets them into this dark hallway with stairs leading down. This is when Carolyn finally tells Victoria where they are - The Catacombs. For those unaware, The Paris Catacombs is essentially a mass grave site for more than six million people. The graveyards in Paris overflowed in 1810, and a series of tunnels were constructed under the city, and the bones/bodies moved.
Victoria is shocked and doesn't understand the excitement about having a party among the dead, but Carolyn explains it's a good reminder to make the most of your life. They get to the party, and Victoria is fixated on the main organizer of these events - Jean Michele (played by Mihai Stanescu, Wer 2013, Walking with the Enemy 2013). Jean Michele also seems to take a liking to Victoria, and he pulls her away from the party to a quieter area and gives her a drink - absinthe.
Jean Michele then proceeds to tell a story about a boy who was brought into the catacombs and raised to believe he was the antichrist. He was raised by a Satanic Cult, and they only fed him raw meat, so now he craves human flesh. This boy grew into a man and a killer. Supposedly he still roams the catacombs in search of victims. Victoria doesn't seem to believe the story entirely. That is, until she gets mad at Carolyn and wanders off into the Catacombs.
Victoria gets lost and is thankful Carolyn is able to find her. They start making their way back to the party but are soon attacked by a large masked figure. The ‘Antichrist’ goes after Victoria and Carolyn; we see Carolyn's death at the hands of this monster. Victoria runs back to the party to warn everyone. At this point, the police break up the party, and in the chaos, Victoria is knocked unconscious and then wakes up alone and trapped in the catacombs.
Victoria now needs to try and navigate her way through these dark, bone-filled caves and stay safe from the murderous monster who dwells in the shadows. The lighting in this film and some of the long hallway shots really make it feel like Victoria is trapped in a twisted, terrifying maze.
Early on, the audience can see that Victoria and Carolyn do not get along very much. Carolyn is a very free spirit and spends much of the movie making fun of Victoria and how ‘uptight’ she is. I love seeing different character relations in films, especially between family members, and this discourse between these two really drives home Victoria feeling alone before they even make it to the catacombs.
Overall, this film does a great job with character development and story building. The pacing is consistent throughout and Victoria is compelling in her portrayal of anxiety. Her emotions, mixed with the set and camera work, made me feel like I was also running through the dark caverns under Paris.
Of course, I won't ruin the ending, but you have to check out this film! I loved the ending, and seeing how things wrapped up left me picking my jaw up off the floor. I loved the setting, and seeing how desperate Victoria grows throughout her hellish night locked in the catacombs makes me rethink having them on my bucket list.
8.5 out of 10 Screams 😱