Above: Scarlett (actress Perdita Weeks) before going underground (below). Photo credits: Universal Pictures.

“As Above, So Below”

August 29, 2014

In the horror thriller movie “As Above, So Below,” director John Erick Dowdle and co-writer Drew Dowdle turn the search for an ancient artifact into a terrifying tour through the catacombs of Paris.

The expedition contains Scarlett, who is following in the footsteps of her father, the world’s preeminent alchemist, who died before he found the object of his lifelong quest, the Philosopher’s Stone. When Scarlett finds a clue that leads her to the catacombs, the windowless adventure begins.

That’s also when Costume Designer Annie Bloom had to find a look for Scarlett that would portray her interior and exterior journeys—and hopefully withstand the rigors of a high-action movie shot mostly underground.

Scarlett wears a loosely crocheted white sweater over a pair of pale tank tops, army green cargo pants and black rubber UGGs. The lacy effect of the sweater paired with the utilitarian style of the pants points to the contrasting elements of her character.

“We always described her as a female Indiana Jones with a bit of an unpredictable edge,” said Bloom, who shot the movie from May to July in Paris. “She was always someplace she wasn’t supposed to be. She speaks five spoken languages and three dead ones. She is a different human being than an average person and her wardrobe is representative of that aspect of her.

“When they go underground, which is about 75 percent of the movie, she is in this one costume,” Bloom said. “It was very dark underneath, but we wanted her to be the lightest character you see. We wanted all the characters to be dressed in a way so that if you had just a glance, you would know who you are looking at.”

The character, and the sweater, endure a lot. Scarlett crawls through tunnels, a blood-filled chamber and more.

“When we would get it stuck or a ceiling would collapse on it, we would poke another hole in it,” Bloom said. The stretchy nature of the cotton weave meant that the sweater required special care, however. “We also had to reweave it so it wouldn’t all come unraveled.

“There were 15 copies of this sweater, but there were so many levels of its distressing,” Bloom said. “We would literally take scissors and cut the sleeves off. At night, I would take them home and weave elastics through it to pull it back into shape.”

The sweater, a $40 number Bloom bought at Brandy Melville in Santa Monica, wasn’t originally intended to be a key costume item. Before she was officially hired as costume designer, Bloom sent the sweater to Paris as a wardrobe option for camera testing the lead actress.

“By the time they decided they wanted me to come over and do the film, they had gotten their mind fixated on the white sweater and that was it,” Bloom said.

Fortunately, when she arrived in Paris, she found a Brandy Melville store. “I took every sweater off the table that they had.”

The sweater even has a starring turn in the film: Scarlett removes it to use as a compress on a wound, which, incidentally, fulfills the intense movie’s need for relief. “The guys finally get to see their sexy leading actress in her tank tops without her sweater.”

“As Above, So Below” opens in theaters today.

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