There’s a set of alarm bells that begin to go off whenever a horror film lands in theaters these days and its any of the following: released during blockbuster season, a found-footage film, containing only one named actor and led by a director whose only credits include b-movies. The Pyramid manages to be all of the above, and then some. Directed by Grégory Levasseur, the man behind the 2006 Hills Have Eyes remake (which I kind of like) and Piranha 3-D (which I kind of don’t), the Egyptian set horror that was never going to really be any good. Found footage is too played out, and any of the original ideas are being done by people in the indie scene because bigger companies are too busy funding stuff like this, and when your lead actor is one of the Inbetweeners (Denis O’Hare), it just doesn’t spell quality. But, there is the bastion of the so-bad-its-good that many horror films find themselves in. Worth nothing sober and with a serious critical eye, but with some good company and the right kind of beverage, the quality levels suddenly sore. Well, let me save you a few hundred words and say The Pyramid falls short of that, too. Lets get this over and done with.
So, Cairo is in the middle of a riot because a new pyramid has been found underground, and this particular pyramid is three-sided, because of course it is, and they don’t want the evil inside to be released. Or something. Its the kind of air-thin setup that permeates much of the genre, so nothing surprising, but given the glossy colors and sense of dread, one would expect more of a 20th Century Fox release. Now, things start to get mysterious when a worker on the pyramid gets infected with some form of something after he opens the pyramid, and the little rover they send in, who bears a striking resemblance to Wall-E, gets attacked by an unknown entity. One of the most problematic aspects early on is that the film can’t seem to decide if its found footage or not. The angles and happy accidents that allow for a found footage film to exist are there; the rover, the cameraman, the equipment that has a camera strapped to it by pure coincidence, but everything looks like a regular film. To the point where the extra movement required to make it seem found footage is almost nauseating as you’re just wishing for the camera to steady.
But, it isn’t until our brave adventurers, Fitzie (Buckley), Dr. Miles Holden (Denis O’Hare, American Horror story) and Dr. Nora Holden (Ashley Hinshaw, Chronicle) enter the pyramid that the action starts and the real flaws come out to play. The screenplay has this jaunty feel to it, jumping between action scenes, such as a soldier piling bullets into these strange cat creatures, adventure sequences, like when the group are escaping traps, or actual horror, as they’re hunted down one by one. It all feels up in the air, as if they picked the scenes as they were making the film. Not that it hurts the story, mind, as the curse of the Mummy turned curse of Anubis tale is so filled with plot-holes, it really doesn’t matter how its told. In fact, I’m not altogether uncertain that the film wasn’t an elaborate excuse to use the lines ‘Can you stop being archaeologist and just be a human being for five minutes?’ and ‘From the dead body room to the kitty tomb.’ in a script and have people pay for en masse. (As this review is a little late, it looks like that much failed, at least!)
The Pyramid is another bad horror film in a line of bad horror films that get mainstream distribution. Frankly, its a pity, because other films, like The Babadook, had to fight and scrounge for their wide release, while this just sauntered into the public eye. Everything here is irredeemably weak, and much of it is very symbolic of what is wrong with horror in mainstream cinemas. You’d put it on hungover to get yourself over the crippling fear, but then end up back on the sauce to get away from such a lifeless piece of film-making.
Not even worth the Netflix curiosity. 1/10