I saw a trailer for The Pyramid back when it was released, and I thought it looked a bit naff. Fun, but naff, with an ad campaign centred on people in a pyramid facing a mummy. Having now seen it, I can say that I was only right on one of the three counts – unsurprisingly, The Pyramid is a naff addition to the horror canon that fails to abide by its own structural logic or present anything coherent.
The film takes place during the Egyptian protests of 2013, and its chosen framework are the tapes recovered from an archaeological dig. A team headed by Dr Nora Holden and her father Dr Miles Holden (Ashley Hinshaw and Denis O’Hare respectively) have uncovered a vast three-sided pyramid hidden under the Egyptian sands. A documentary crew is dispatched to follow the team on their journey. The political situation leads to orders of the team’s evacuation, but they refuse to go before having a look in the pyramid. A robot they dispatch is quickly destroyed, and so they enter the pyramid themselves. Because this is a horror, they promptly become trapped and lost, facing a number of perils that start to reduce their numbers, and so they desperately try to escape.
Now, the found-footage thing has been a blot on cinema for quite a while, with studios churning out low-budget and poorly-acted garbage at an upsetting rate. That, I feel, would be an excellent description of The Pyramid, but for one minor point – it doesn’t even do found footage properly. It wants to use it as a frame, but it won’t commit, so we have a daft amount of shots that nobody could have filmed and that really takes you out of it. It may be a minor issue to some, but any film that proposes to be a collection of lost tapes should at least try to stick to its own logic.
Sadly, as is the case with these types of films, logic goes out of the window in order to keep pushing the story (I use that term liberally – we’ll come to it soon) forwards. Particularly annoying is the way that the team constantly ignore the rational advice of the only sensible character, Dr Miles Holden, and then turn on him when things start to go wrong. He was the guy who said to leave, he didn’t want to go into the pyramid, he was the only one with any sense – get your acts together, folks.
The rest of the team are fairly rubbish, a bunch of caricatures existing only to be killed. The tech expert of the team suffers an unfortunate injury to his leg, and we are meant to feel bad when the team need to leave him, but we don’t. He’s had no characterisation, and that is endemic to the team. The only one who perhaps has anything to them is the lead cameraman, played by James Buckley, who is essentially putting on the same geezer persona he always does.
I rooted for him not to make it out of the pyramid.
I’d like to talk about the story, but I think it would be fairer to dub it a few layers of contrivance that bind a bunch of scenes together. The main plotline wasn’t really anything, so the movie is forced to add in random plot events just to keep rolling. A soldier guy from earlier appears to have made his way into the pyramid from a different entrance entirely (although he watched the team use the only one anyone knew about) just to provide another body to kill. And let’s not get started on the first source of jump scares, feral cats who have survived underground in toxic air for thousands of years eating each other. I can only wonder what the scriptwriter there was thinking of.
The film is completely terrible (try as it might). There is one good jump scare that did get me, and the Egyptian premise allows for an interesting monster (although the presentation leaves a lot to be desired). On the whole, though, the film is a grind – bland (and often too dark to even be comprehensible), and probably not worth your time.
Not to mention the lack of mummies.
Director: Grégory Levasseur
Cast: Ashley Hinshaw (Nora), Denis O’Hare (Holden), James Buckley (Fitzie), Christa Nicola (Sunni), Amir K (Zahir), Faycal Attougui (Corporal Shadid)
Running Time: 89 Mins
Image credit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z54qVH7Z8kI