Amid riots in Egypt a documentary crew arrive in Egypt to film the archaeological dig that has found a new pyramid buried beneath the sands. As they enter and venture deep into the structure they get lost in a maze within the pyramid.
So The Pyramid starts off as a found footage film, a Documentary crew assigned to follow a Father and Daughter archaeologist team into a newly discovered 3 sided Pyramid. Seems an obvious choice for the camera work, and the first 10 minutes things are going to plan. Even though I struggle with a bouncy camera, I had taken my medication and was ok with it. Then they enter the Pyramid with a NASA all-terrain robot camera; this is where the “real” film makers obviously realized that shooting the whole film by found footage wasn’t going to work, and they suddenly introduce another camera! We then flip-flop between camera’s which becomes a little disorientating at times and kept pulling me out of the film. I can see why they wanted the hand-held stuff, we have the obligatory infra-red scene; which actually wasn’t too bad. Plus we have another light source. Yet this is still one of the films major flaws, just pick a way to shoot it and stick with it.
To tell you the truth there are not many positives I can come up with for this film. The cast is bad to ok (at best). The script is pretty poor, there is a lot of CGI, the score was a little heavy handed and built to a typical scare. Though in fairness there were a couple of good jump moments, nothing a seasoned horror fan would budge at; but Mark (RRS) may leave his seat on these few occasions.
The cast what can I say, Denis O’Hare is a seasoned actor but even he can’t rescue this film; in fact he had some of the worst lines. James Buckley has the lion share of the jokes, in fact he has all the jokes, but they barley raised a snigger with me. Ashley Hinshaw plays O’Hare’s daughter and she is ok. However the award for over acting goes to Christa Nicola. She just isn’t very good at all, but none of them are helped by the script, it offers them nothing to work with and some of them needed all the help they could get.
The sound design is pretty good, that did impress me at times. The premise as well is a decent idea, but what good ideas Meersand and Simon had just disappear under the poorly executed direction. Gregory Levasseur has worked under Alexandre Aja on The Hills have Eyes, but he’s not really got to grips with this film at all which is a shame. Everything is by the numbers, which it shouldn’t have been, a cool setting inside a buried Pyramid which should have led to some pretty decent scares (think the descent) and Levassur might have pulled it out of the tomb. The actual mythology the film attempts to follow is pretty good and the choice of “monster” is rather good as well (even if it’s CGI). Though I did get flashbacks to the monsters from the Scooby Doo movie.
Luckily it’s around 89 minutes which was a blessing really because I was willing the credits to roll!
This is going to be a bit of a rant I’m afraid as Pyramid really annoyed me in the way it told its story. To be fair, its probably not the films fault and it does not deserve all this bile. (Think when Mark Kermode gets on his soap box and the veins pop out on his forehead….. thats what I was like when I left the cinema, just less of a quiff. Its a few hours later now and Im still a little grumpy writing this). Pyramid did something other films in the same vein do that annoys me, and did it to such an extent that by the end of it I was fuming that I had wasted 90 minutes plus trailers. I was glad I had gone alone and not taken Kat to see it.
Pyramid at its core is claiming to be a found footage film. Shot mid last year during the riots in Cairo, a documentary film crew arrive to document a archaeological dig that has found a new pyramid buried in the desert. A title card displayed at the beginning of the film states ‘This is what they documented’. So you would assume its a found footage movie, because it says its DOCUMENTED. (Unlike some people I quite enjoy a lot of found footage movies). So 1 camera man filming and (later on) a girl wearing a headset – 2 cameras to document the proceedings.
Here in lies the issue, a lot of the time found footage has one of two issues, either:
1 There is no way the footage survives the events of the film, let alone is found by anyone.
2 It becomes convoluted and difficult to get the shots required, so sometimes they may fudge it a little.
Pyramid found the solution to the second issue, it proclaimed itself to be found footage and then just gave up – in the first 10 minutes. 10 Minutes in, they just cut to a non existent camera, then returned to the ‘found’ camera footage style. 10 minutes later, they did it again.
If it had started as the premise of the documentary crew shooting the footage, switched to a standard film and then continued when they entered the pyramid, then fair enough. But no, they decided to switch between the found footage style and just shooting like a normal movie. For the first hour 90% of the film is in the found footage style, but this is repeatedly edited with wide shots or closeups from external cameras. By about an hour in, they gave up on found footage almost entirely. Jumping between the two styles of filmmaking was very jarring to me and it kept pulling me out of the film repeatedly (pretty much every time it occoured).
The Pyramid tries to have it’s cake and eat it and just fails miserably.
This isn’t the only issue with this movie.
Technicalities aside, the basic premise of the movie is a good one, actually its a great one. BUT unfortunately on the flip side the script is poorly written, its very badly acted with the the CGI monsters are AWFUL, when they use latex ones, dare I say it)…. they look even worse. The lighting and camerawork (aside from the rant above) also isn’t the best, with some very questionable lighting (especially in the final scenes).
Something tells me this would of worked better as a horror maze than a movie.
If I wasn’t writing this, I would of walked out.
Wow, this takes some doing. How can you get a good premise for a film and then get it so horribly wrong? THE PYRAMID has echoes of CHERNOBYL DIARIES, much like this movie you have a great setting in which to base your movie and yet it goes so badly wrong as it doesn’t get capitalized on to maximum effect. A claustrophobic tomb, long dark passages that lead deeper and deeper, a series of elaborate and downright nasty traps (the room full of spikes – brilliant!) but when you put it all together it just falls on its arse.
It isn’t helped by the fact that we have a group of characters we do not care one little bit about, there isn’t a single one of them that you feel some affinity with and you just find yourself wanting to shout at the screen when you find them doing something that you know is totally stupid. It’s a shame as some aspects of THE PYRAMID work well, I like the dark claustrophobic setting and I loved the monster but it really needs more screen time as it is the star of the show.
What I found with this movie is that you wish a grizzly demise on the entire cast early on and there is too much wandering round, shouting, screaming, making dumb decisions and not enough that appeals to a horror fans such as myself. Like so many modern horrors this really fails to make the most of its’ setting and its’ monster and too much is given over to an unlikeable group of people doing stupid things.
To its’ credit there are times it does work, there are some nice kill scenes and some truly scary moments but that isn’t enough to save it from that generic 15 rated mediocrity that is plaguing the horror scene so much. Where is the next scary movie coming from because there is nothing I have seen this year that gives me much optimism there is something better just around the corner. This just sits in that band of safe horror movies that is now becoming the norm for mainstream cinema and it is rubbish like this that makes me wonder why I bother watching new releases when I know they are only going to let me down.
The Pyramid is out in cinemas 5th December.