Pyramid, The (2014)
Directed by Grégory Levasseur
With the barrage of clips and teasers Twentieth Century Fox released over the past few weeks for The Pyramid, we were starting to feel like we’d already seen the whole movie; but if you were avoiding them all until you were able to check it out for yourself, it’s a good bet you weren’t able to see any of it this weekend since “limited” doesn’t even begin to describe the flick’s release. Which is why I’m writing this review instead of Foy, who originally claimed it; unfortunately (for me) The Pyramid didn’t open anywhere near him (lucky fucker).
So, what is Fox hiding? A pretty ho-hum affair that probably should have just hit VOD and DTV and gone about its merry way before the better horror offerings the powers-that-be have waiting in the wings for 2015 arrive.
But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. What’s wrong with – and maybe a little right about – The Pyramid, and what’s it even about anyway?
As the film opens, it’s 2012 and Cairo, Egypt, is in the throes of revolution while 250 miles away Holden and Nora, a father-daughter archaeological team (O’Hare and Hinshaw), are about to open a previously unknown pyramid buried deep in the sand. She used a satellite to uncover their find, a controversial method the more conservative archaeologists, her dad included, aren’t fully on board with.
Plus, it’s no ordinary pyramid; it’s three-sided instead of four with unusual markings. Cue spooky shenanigans like a member of the work crew foaming at the mouth and acting zombie-esque after inhaling the structure’s toxic air. Misdirection or possibly a portent of things to come? We won’t say more except that aliens were also alluded to, as were the Freemasons(!), so we had a smorgasbord of possibilities ahead.
Of course the dig is being filmed by a documentary team (Buckley as annoying cameraman Fitzie and Christa Nicola as annoying interviewer Sunni), and the fifth member of our group is Zahir (Amir K), with whom Hinshaw’s character is having a romance.
To address the elephant in the room, yes, The Pyramid IS found footage… sort of… mostly. Probably 80% of it is with the rest being random overhead shots once everyone enters the tomb of doom plus a few peeks at things we couldn’t see otherwise – like Shorty, the pretty cool camera strapped to a cave-rover Zahir “borrowed” from NASA.
After all the players have been introduced, it takes awhile for things to get cooking. The middle section especially has some eye-rollingly bad dialogue, and aside from O’Hare, who’s only marginally interesting as the assholish Holden, the leads would have benefited a lot from a few additional takes of their scenes. Alas, obviously the budget didn’t allow for that, but it did provide some pretty effective F/X work (similar to the found footage ratio, the effects are around 80% CGI to 20% practical).
SPOILER ALERT (although if you watched the aforementioned barrage of sneak peeks, you already know this):
There are creatures in The Pyramid, one in particular we don’t see represented all that often with ties to the Egyptian god Osiris and the Book of the Dead. He’s clearly visible and menacing. But it’s too little too late. There are a couple of inventive deaths along the way – at one point Creepy and I both jumped and grabbed each other’s hand laughing, and at another he turned to me and said, “That just raised this from a 2-1/2 to a 3,” to which I replied, “No, all it did was keep it from being a 2,” – but as you’ll see below, I spoke too soon, and Levasseur’s directorial debut joins the dozens of other just barely mediocre films released this year. Although I will say that the ending does mostly satisfy, a nice surprise.
While The Pyramid uses its claustrophobic setting better than As Above/So Below does (c’mon, you knew comparisons were inevitable), it simply doesn’t have the star power to keep an audience’s interest. What it has instead is “not” star power. Like the whole time I kept thinking of Hinshaw as “Not Emilie de Ravin,” Nicola as “Not Stockard Channing” or rather “Not Rizzo,” and Buckley as “Not Jeremy Scahill.” And yes, I know Scahill’s not an actor – or British – but those musings were keeping me more entertained than the events taking place up on the screen.
Toward the end a character is asked how he’s doing, and his response is that he wants to get the hell out of there, which is exactly how I felt at that point. The couple three rows in front of us must have agreed because with just ten minutes to go, they walked out. So listen to me or learn from them, and save your money for holiday shopping. If you do journey into the depths of The Pyramid, don’t blame us if you leave feeling Egypped.