When cinema seeks inspiration (and horror) in the catacombs of Paris

Oh the catacombs of Paris, the largest ossuary in the world, with its millions of skeletons, its 20 meters deep and 1,500 meters visitable (i.e. barely 1% of the total surface), its cataphiles and its cataflics, its bunkers and its Airbnb (!), his crocodile… Ah no, maybe not. If they shelter “another history of Paris”, the catacombs also nourish all the fantasies and therefore some fictions. Available exclusively on Wednesday on OCS, the film Deep Fear follows three friends who decide to celebrate the end of their studies with a short visit to the catacombs of the capital. Except that something or someone wants to prevent them from coming out alive.

There are few films or series on the catacombs

Directed by Gregory Begin, Deep Fear is a 100% assumed B series, whether in its approach found footageits atmosphere nineties or its generous horror. It is also a French film, the second unitary OCS Signature after The Invitation and before Pilot, and one of the rare fictions to dive into the Parisian catacombs. This is the paradox: there are already few films on the catacombs, and moreover, the best known are not necessarily French. They appeared, for example, in Cartridge by Philippe de Broca The Gaspards by Pierre Tchernia or Paris by Cédric Klapisch, but few make it their main setting like nox, the strange Canal+ series with Nathalie Bay and Maïwenn. A setting recreated in an old quarry in Auvers-sur-Oise.

For a recent episode of Lupinethe director Hugo Gélin was able to shoot “in the real catacombs, those which are authorized to the public, in the 14th arrondissement, place Denfert-Rochereau”, he explains to First. And that’s not all: “We also shot in other catacombs, which people cannot visit. There are many tunnels not allowed to the public. Maybe four or five times more. It takes three arrondissements of Paris. It’s gigantic. (…) I really wanted it to be real, not filmed in the studio. I loved the fact that we are under Paris. And that when there is this ladder to get out, it’s the real ladder, it’s really 30 meters, and it really comes out at this place in Paris, in the middle of a garden. »

Welcome to the Catacombs of Paris from Romania

The French series is not the only one to have been authorized to shoot in the catacombs of Paris, there was also an American film simply titled catacombs. Yes like the American movie catacombs. There are indeed two films with the same French title, respectively, and to differentiate them, in the original version, Catacombs in 2007 and As Above, So Below in 2014. The first features a young American tourist (Shannyn Sossamon) who finds herself taken by her sister (singer Pink) to a secret rave party in the catacombs. Between hallucinations, satanic killer and final surprise, the film does the job but does not show the real catacombs, since most of the filming takes place in Romania.

On the other hand, the second As Above, So Below, benefited from the agreement of the Prefecture of police to film in the real catacombs, over several hundred kilometers of tunnels. They even went down there and burned a car. It was necessary to tell the story of an archeology student in search of the Philosopher’s Stone, where the alchemist Nicolas Flamel invites himself, Hell of Dante and even François Civil in one of his first roles. “Another story of Paris”, we tell you.

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