“Dante’s Inferno: Navigating the Complexities of Hell in As Above, So Below

These words scrawled across the walls beneath the Paris Catacombs mark the entrance to Hell for the characters in As Above, So Below. They herald in a nightmarish final act. The very same words that mark the gates to Hell in writer Dante Alighieri’s Inferno, the first part of his epic poem of Divine ComedyInferno tells of Dante’s journey through the nine circles of Hell, guided by the Roman poet Virgil. Their journey begins on Good Friday, and the pair emerges from Hell early on Easter morning under a starry sky. Though As Above, So Below draws from various mythologies, it’s Dante’s Inferno and its complex rendering of Hell that most closely mirrors protagonist Scarlett Marlowe’s quest, making for an atypical found footage film that offers impressively layered world-building.

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The only way out is down. That they descend through a well is significant. Scarlett explains the phrase “as above, so below” is the key to all magic. What happens in one reality occurs in another, presenting a bizarre mirror-like symmetry to their voyage. The group begins by climbing down a well, and they end it by going down another well. In Inferno, wells play a part in getting Dante and his guide to the eighth and ninth circles. Later, Dante and Virgil finally reach the center of Hell and begin their escape by continuing downward. Dante is convinced they’re returning to Hell, only to realize gravity has changed, and they’re climbing up to the surface. Dante, half-way through his life, begins his journey spiritually lost. More than just a guide to Hell, Virgil becomes his guide to virtue and mortal. That’s mirrored in Scarlett, reckless and reeling from the loss of her father, and George, the strict rule-abiding ethical anchor. Much of George’s fear for breaking the law stems from spending time in a Turkish prison before the events of the film, which also parallel’s Virgil in that he detailed his personal trip through Hell in his poem Aeneid. ”    –Meagan Navarro, Bloody Disgusting, April 10, 2020

See our original post on As Above, So Below here.

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, S03E01

“It sounds insane to say but Sabrina’s journey through hell merged both The Wizard of OZ and Dante’s Inferno and it worked perfectly. Sabrina’s journey ends with a dash of Milton’s Paradise Lost and it’s all rendered is horrifying, beautiful images that would make any Renaissance poet swoon.

“It stands to reason that Dante, who took the most famous journey through hell in literature would get a shout out in Sabrina. She’s assigned to read it by her poor, formerly possessed teacher Miss Wardwell and from that gets the idea of finding a backdoor into hell, so she can save her boyfriend. Just doing Dante would be fine here, but we get the first hints of Oz as Sabrina gathers three friends to join her. And to get through hell, they need special shoes. Not ruby slippers though, but shoes of the dead. I guess the Ruby Slippers technically belonged to a dead person too, so well-played.

“After a spell that directly quotes Dante’s version of the inscription on the gates of hell – ‘Abandon all hope, ye who enter here’ – Sabrina, Harvey, Roz and Theo arrive in hell on the ‘Shore of Sorrow’ which sounds a lot like the way Dante arrives in hell himself, on the shores of the river Acheron (yes, Acheron is a term we hear in Sabrina for a trap for a demon). [. . .]”   — Jessica Mason, “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Journeys to a Hellish Oz by Way of Dante’s Inferno,” Review (with spoilers!) of Season Premiere of Part Three of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Netflix, 2020) on The Mary Sue