CATACOMBS. 2007. WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY TOMM COKER AND DAVID ELLIOT. STARRING SHANNYN SOSSAMON AND ALECIA MOORE (AKA PINK). REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
This horror film is based on possibly the coolest concept I’ve ever come across. Underneath the city of Paris are the titular catacombs, containing the remains of the seven million bodies the French buried there in olden times when they ran out of legitimate burial space above ground. It boggles the mind, doesn’t it? It boggles mine, anyway…!
Shannyn Sossamon plays Victoria, a young woman who visits her sister Carolyn in gay Paree and gets a whole heck of a lot more than she bargained for. Her sister, incidentally, is played by the pop star Pink. Carolyn is in-your-face almost to the point of obnoxiousness. She doesn’t sound at all like Pink the popstar, does she…?
Tiresomely outgoing and altogether too-cool-for-school, Carolyn thinks that the quiet Victoria needs livening up. On Vicky’s first night in Paris, Pink drags her reluctant sister to a rave being illegally held in the catacombs, surely a cool enough venue to satisfy even the most jaded of party-goers. Sounds like typical old party girl Pink, doesn’t it…?
At the party, Victoria meets the host, the handsome and charismatic Jean-Michel. I thought they seemed attracted to each other but nothing happens between them, oddly enough. He does, however, tell her the story of a satanic cult who raised a terrifying beast-man from a baby in the catacombs, a beast-man who now roams the underground tunnels wearing a goat-mask and scaring the living daylights out of anyone unfortunate enough to encounter him. It’s a great story, right enough, but is it true…? Time will tell.
Victoria wanders off from the pack and, when Carolyn catches up to her, is horrified to hear her sister being attacked and killed by something that sounds an awful lot like the Goat-Mask-Beast-Man. When the catacops raid the catacombs- catacops, geddit…?- everyone scarpers out of the tunnels, leaving Victoria alone under the earth with her sister’s corpse and the severely aggravated Goat-Mask-Beast-Man hot on her tail…
Shannyn Sossamon is beautiful and looks terrific in her strappy olive-green dress and clumpy boots. She’s got great cheekbones and I could watch her running around the pitch-black tunnels all day. The film doesn’t make the most of the brilliant concept of the catacombs, though. It’s not nearly scary enough and doesn’t take the viewer to the dark places implied, no, promised, by the title. Also, Pink is really annoying. And the language out of her…! ‘Twould embarrass a docker, so it would.
There’s an interesting twist at the end which somewhat makes up for the lack of a good strong script, so I’d still recommend that you watch this film despite the lack of clever plotting and any real shocks. I still love the concept as well, the idea of someone being trapped and lost in the catacombs while on the streets over their head the unsuspecting people of Paris ride buses and trains and go about their daily business, blissfully unaware of what’s going on beneath them.
I’d definitely watch any other films or even documentaries that have been made about the catacombs. I might even go to the library and see if I can dig up a book about them, that’s how much I’d like to know more about them and their origins. I might even rewatch this film one day just for the cool skulls and dark tunnels. A film that makes me want to read up on my French History…? Wow. Now that’s something that doesn’t come along every day…!
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based performance poet, novelist, film blogger, sex blogger and short story writer. She has given more than 200 performances of her comedy sex-and-relationship poems in different venues around Dublin, including The Irish Writers’ Centre, The International Bar, Toners’ Pub (Ireland’s Most Literary Pub), the Ha’penny Inn, Le Dernier Paradis at the Trinity Inn and The Strokestown Poetry Festival.
Her articles, short stories and poems have appeared in The Metro-Herald newspaper, Ireland’s Big Issues magazine, The Irish Daily Star, The Irish Daily Sun and The Boyne Berries literary journal. In August 2014, she won the ONE LOVELY BLOG award for her (lovely!) horror film review blog. She is addicted to buying books and has been known to bring home rain-washed tomes she finds on the street and give them a home.
She is the proud possessor of a pair of unfeasibly large bosoms. They have given her- and the people around her- infinite pleasure over the years. She adores the horror genre in all its forms and will swap you anything you like for Hammer Horror or JAWS memorabilia. She would also be a great person to chat to about the differences between the Director’s Cut and the Theatrical Cut of The Wicker Man. You can contact her at: