An archaeological team attempts to unlock the secrets of a lost pyramid only to find themselves hunted by an insidious creature.
It seems odd that a horror movie like The Pyramid would open in December, smack dab in the middle of a slew of prestige films looking for award consideration. Could it be that director Gregory Levassuer & screenwriters Daniel Meersand/Nick Simon believe that their film is worthy of some kind of notice come next February?
I certainly hope not.
The Pyramid tells the tale of an archaeologist named Holden (Denis O’Hare), who has just discovered a hidden three sided pyramid buried deep under the sands of Egypt, just outside of Cairo. In order to investigate, Holden enlists his daughter Nora (Ashley Hinshaw), her boyfriend/robotics expert Zahir (Amir K.) and two documentarians to record the entire enterprise, Sunni (Christa Nicola) & Fitzie (James Buckley). But due to unruly crowds & unrest in nearby Cairo, the government orders Holden & crew to leave the site immediately. His daughter convinces him to at least allow Zahir to guide a robot (That looks just like Wall-E) into the pyramid for a few hours before they leave, so that they can get an idea of what’s inside of it. But when the robot malfunctions, Zahir is forced to enter the pyramid to retrieve it. Once inside, they find the remains of the robot and not much else. But they lose their way inside of the pyramid and soon realize that whatever destroyed the robot is now hunting them.
You’d think that once they found the robot all mangled up they’d turn tail right then and there. Why? Because a lost pyramid buried under the sand for centuries shouldn’t have anything alive inside of it – and once they find the pieces of the robot, it’s obvious that something tore that sucker apart. But not these guys, they just trudge on despite the fact that they have no frigging idea of which way to go and the hieroglyphics they read as they go deeper into the pyramid seem to suggest that they better get out quickly. And shortly thereafter, they run afoul of some strange feral, cat like creatures that seem to be pretty hungry (If I was trapped in an underground pyramid for centuries, I’d be pretty hungry too actually). And then they run into what seems to be the personification of the god Anubis – and he has some unsavory plans for his guests involving an ancient rite known as “The Weighing Of The Heart”.
The Pyramid is a found footage film (All of the characters are wearing or carrying cameras), but only when it wants to be. The camera perspective keeps changing from first person to third person, which while common for the found footage genre – can still be confusing at times. It’s been my experience that when I sit down to watch a film in the found footage genre, I see the same thing over & over again – mainly characters running around blindly in a dark area while screaming at the top of their lungs as they attempt to escape from something we hardly ever see. The Pyramid falls squarely into that category, but it at least has the novelty of a mysterious pyramid going for it. Sadly, the cinematography is so dim & murky inside of the titular structure that it’s really, really hard to see much of anything for 3/4 of the movie. The performances are pretty much par for the course, all of the actors fare well. But the extremely dull script makes all of them seem to be very stupid, I don’t think an experienced archaeologist would do the things that Holden & his crew do here – at least I hope not. The CGI looks to be a bit on the chintzy side, but since the animated characters make their appearances in the darkness of the pyramid, you don’t see enough of them to make that a deal breaker.
Very little of The Pyramid is especially engaging, and none of it is particularly scary either. The scares are telegraphed well in advance & if you make it a habit to watch horror films then you’ve seen them all before. Since none of the characters are especially interesting, the pacing of the film is slow and making them stupid isn’t much of a help in that regard either. The film does ladle on a fair bit of gore, which momentarily woke me up out of the nap I was slowly drifting into. But then it just got stupid again, and I struggled to stay awake for most of the films running time. The novelty of having the film take place in a lost pyramid is summarily lost because very little is done with the idea – save for the fact that it’s really dark inside of a partially buried pyramid. First time director Levasseur does a yeoman like job of moving things along, but it’s much ado over nothing in the end thanks to the script.
All The Pyramid does is prove that there isn’t much more that can be done within the found footage genre, and that’s a shame because of its unique setting. You’d think that it would at least attempt to steer clear of some of the tropes that are the norm for the genre, but it doesn’t – indeed, it seems to revel in them. Too bad, because while I never expected it to be the best movie of the year, I thought that it might try to do something different because of its unique setting. Tack on an ending that feels cheap & extremely rushed and you have a film that settles into a series of well worn tropes that do little to advance the found footage genre – and nothing to scare its intended audience.
The Pyramid – .5 out of 5 shrouds.
The Pyramid is now available on bluray per 20th Century Fox