UK Release Date: 5th December 2014
Runtime: 89 minutes
Director: Grégory Levasseur
Writer: Daniel Meersand, Nick Simon
Starring: Ashley Hinshaw, Denis O’Hare, James Buckley, Christa Nicola, Amir K
Synopsis: A pair of archaeologists join a documentary film crew in order to explore a newly discovered pyramid hidden underground in the desert.
Halloween has been and gone, but horror films are still making their way through cinemas. The latest horror flop to appear in UK multiplexes is Egypt-set found footage movie The Pyramid, which embraces silliness and ridiculous plot developments to great effect.
Dr Nora Holden (Ashley Hinshaw) and her father Miles (Denis O’Hare) are running an archaeological dig in Egypt, watched by documentary filmmaker Sunni (Christa Nicola) and her cameraman Fitzie (James Buckley). They decide to enter an underground pyramid that they unearth, soon discovering that something very sinister is down there.
The Pyramid is a very ramshackle movie, thrown together rather than elegantly constructed. The found footage gimmick is picked up and dropped almost at will, with the film seemingly unsure whether to fully commit to the style given its recent ubiquity and falling popularity.
| "This is the find of the century. You’re crazy if you think I’m not going in there."
However, where the film does excel is in how wholeheartedly it embraces its own silliness. The third act of The Pyramid is a thoroughly ridiculous creature feature, in which any sense of claustro-horror in the vein of The Descent is immediately discarded in favour of jump scares aplenty and a liberal sprinkling of gore. One jump scare in particular is legitimately shocking and completely turns the film on its head in a single explosion of violence.
This sense of fun does not, however, transfer to the cast. The central performers are a bland ensemble of horror movie cannon fodder, devoid of any real character. In fact, the only one with anything approaching a personality is Fitzie – played by Inbetweeners star James Buckley – and he is relegated to delivering tonally inappropriate one-liners, including a truly excruciating and baffling bit of feline wordplay.
The central crime of the film is in its complete lack of tension building. Films like The Descent and this year’s As Above, So Below did a great job of gradually increasing the scare factor, utilising the claustrophobic setting to unsettle the audience. The Pyramid, on the other hand, is far too dimly lit to ever make the most of its impressively tight setting and too keen to deliver cheap jump scares to create any sustained tension.
| "Stay close… and don’t touch anything.”
The Pyramid doesn’t seem to fully understand where it sits. It’s not convinced it’s a found footage movie and regularly abandons that gimmick, but nor is it convinced that it’s a claustro-horror either.
For all of its clunky dialogue and myriad flaws, it’s worth admiring The Pyramid for its commitment to its own silliness. By the time it goes full-tilt bonkers in the final half an hour, the film has built up enough guilty pleasure goodwill that it ends up being an enjoyable experience.
Pop or Poop?
Badly shot, poorly written and blandly acted, it’s a frustrating example of missed potential that is almost rescued by its really fun climax.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.