A team of U.S. archaeologists unearths an ancient pyramid buried deep beneath the Egyptian desert. As they search the pyramid's depths, they become hopelessly lost in its dark and endless catacombs. Searching for a way out, they become desperate to seek daylight again. They come to realize they aren't just trapped, they are being hunted.Written by
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Corporal Shadid fires his rifle down the crawlway at whatever has been following the group. But, firing a rifle in a confined space which the group was in would have been incredibly deafening and their hearing would have been affected, even if temporarily. In addition, there were no spent casings being seen or heard ejected from his rifle as he fired. See more »
A stock found-footage horror that at least boasts a slightly more intriguing setting to hold your attention
If there's one thing we've learnt from 'The Descent', it's that tight spaces make for good claustrophobic horror. That seems to be the idea behind 'The Pyramid', which sends an archaeological team into the depths of an ancient pyramid which has just been unearthed in the Egyptian desert. Aside from the opening scenes, most of the rest of the movie takes place within the narrow corridors or rooms within the pyramid, which in itself does generate a veritable sense of dread.
Whether it was the intention of screenwriters Daniel Meersand and Nick Simon at the start or that of director Gregory Levasseur later on isn't clear, but 'The Pyramid' follows the recent trend of horror movies in adopting the found-footage format. Largely, that is. The majority of the shots originate from British cameraman Fitzie's (James Buckley) point of view, which also means that the key characters we see on screen most of the time are father-and-daughter pair Holden (Denis O'Hare) and Nora (Ashley Hinshaw) and award- chasing filmmaker Sunni (Christa- Marie Nicola). Only when it seems technically possible to have a first- person p.o.v. shot does Levasseur switch to more traditional modes of shot composition and framing, in particular when all but one of the members of the team is left.
Truth be told, we've never really been a big fan of found-footage horror, in part because most filmmakers use technique as an excuse for poor plotting, thinking that just having their characters run and/or scream down dimly lit hallways and getting surprised by things that jump out at them – and the audience – makes for a movie. To some extent, Levasseur and his writers are guilty of that as well, relying too conveniently on rote jump scares to deliver the thrills, which any seasoned horror fan can probably anticipate when and what is coming at them.
But thankfully, the Egyptology-themed setting isn't completely wasted; the last third of the movie is steeped in religious mythology, in particular the appearance of a part-man part-jackal creature better known in ancient Egyptian history as an "Anubis" and its role in an ancient funerary rite known as the "Weighing of the Heart". This isn't the family-friendly adventure that 'The Mummy' and its sequels ever was; indeed, coming from producer Alexandre Aja of 'The Hills Have Eyes', you should certainly be prepared for some pretty gory shocking scenes, including one that is clearly inspired by an iconic shot from 'Aliens' (you know, the one from the back?).
Not all the movie is that intriguing though; for a good part where the group is making its way through the narrow underground tunnels, the pace drags because none of the characters are particularly interesting in and of themselves. What effort spent introducing some conflict between them also falls flat, as Nora's criticism of Fitzie's obsession to get their ordeal down on camera is over and done with in just one scene – not least for the fact that she becomes the one to hold on to his camera and document the proceedings after something unfortunate befalls him.
You'll probably do well lowering your expectations if you've decided to watch 'The Pyramid', which seems content to revel in B-movie tropes than to be anything truly inspiring by itself. To its credit, it doesn't entirely squander its titular Egyptian theme, though for that matter, it also doesn't fully exploit it as well. What longtime Aja screenwriter Levasseur has managed in his directorial debut is to show he can mount a perfectly credible but mediocre found-footage horror, which is only as memorable as the time it takes for another B-grade horror to come along.
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