The Pyramid, 2014.
Directed by Grégory Levasseur.
Starring Ashley Hinshaw, Denis O’Hare, James Buckley, Christa Nicola and Amir K.
A documentary film crew follows a team of archaeologists into a newly-discovered and completely unmapped pyramid near Cairo, only for things to quickly start going very wrong…
Well, what have we got here? Is it another found footage horror movie? Of course it is. For whatever reason, Hollywood just refuses to give up the ghost on this, or even allow the idea just a few years of breathing space which could potentially inject some freshness and vigour in there. As such we find ourselves scraping the bottom of the figurative barrel for some semblance of what made this sub-genre interesting in the first place, but if Grégory Levasseur’s The Pyramid is anything to go by, there’s absolutely nothing left in there. Certainly from the quasi-seminal The Blair Witch Project back in ’99 through to the excellent Cloverfield and the chilling Paranormal Activity, there have been some great examples of how the genre can be worked over the years, but now we seem to have reached a stage where it’s not just that the majority are rubbish, but there’s no effort being put in either, from the studios or the filmmakers, and that’s the most unforgivable thing of all. Watching The Pyramid – a film which makes As Above, So Below look like a masterpiece – felt like watching 89 minutes of uninterested people trying to make money.
The reason the film is such a disaster is because it fails on basically every level. There’s no room for, “well this didn’t quite work but this other thing was actually alright…”; this film isn’t scary in the slightest, it fails to create any kind of atmosphere or tension, it relies far to heavily on poorly executed jump scares and it fails dramatically. It’s contrived beyond belief, derivative of films that are already derivative, boring and lacks any character development whatsoever. Just twenty minutes in and we’re hoping for everyone to die so it will all be over. That’s how little the film makes us care about its characters, which is kind of condemning when it’s the characters’ well-being that the drama hinges on.
They’re all stupid, too. Not in a fun, clichéd horror movie way, like the hot blonde running up the stairs or the clearly safe in numbers group deciding to split up, but in an incredulous, inexplicable kind of way. At one point one of them ties a safety line before entering the dark, unexplored corridors of the eponymous pyramid, only for James Buckley’s cameraman to ask, “What’s that for?” Really? I mean, really? Why don’t you take a guess what that’s for. That line really takes the cherry on the stale cake that is the script, and what on earth the screenwriters were thinking is just beyond comprehension. The film isn’t awful because of them, but they undeniably laid the foundations for a turkey. What’s most depressing is that there is probably a good film in this idea somewhere, but it’s all just so poorly and lazily constructed.
Beyond all of that, we end up at the same question we always ask: does it need to be found footage? As usual the answer is pretty much no, but again what’s so infuriating about the film is that it doesn’t even stick to its convictions. When the drama finally reaches a point where there’s no logical reason or way for a character to be filming, it just forgets about it and hopes the audience doesn’t notice. But of course the audience will notice because they need something else to think about; God knows there’s nothing happening narratively that’s holding our attention. Even as the drama rolls up to the denouement and it’s supposed to be getting exciting and scarier, all that’s happening is that it’s getting sillier and sillier.
From the pure paycheck acting from everyone involved (particularly Denis O’Hare who can do so much better – it looks like he just fancied a holiday and took a quick job), to the complete lack of dramatic engagement, this is genre filmmaking at its lowest point. I believe there’s still a pulse in found footage that only needs a decent director to find it, but if it keeps going along at this rate audiences are soon going to give it up for dead, if they haven’t already. Supremely dull, utterly uninteresting and hopelessly unengaging. The Pyramid is rubbish.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★
Edward Gardiner – Follow me on Twitter