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THE PYRAMID (2014)
Review by L.L. Soares

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While people are rioting in the streets of Cairo during the Arab Spring of 2013, a group of archeologists are exploring a pyramid buried deep in the desert, previously unknown. Using satellites to find its whereabouts and a digging crew to unearth it, Professor Holden (Denis O’Hare) and his daughter Nora (Ashley Hinshaw) are leading this exhibition, excited about being involved in a discovery that will make history. Along for the ride is Zahir (Amir K), who controls a NASA-created robot that can investigate where humans can’t (it’s like a mini version of the Mars Rover). Zahir is also getting involved with Nora, much to Holden’s dismay.

The discovery is also being filmed by a reporter, Sunni (Christa Nicola) and her videographer, Ritzie (James Buckley), who are determined to stay close and get the story of their careers. But soldiers come to tell them all they have to go away, due to the growing unrest in the cities. Professor Holden is annoyed, since they are far from civilization, and the group is determined to explore the pyramid regardless.

First they send the robot in, but when they inevitably lose contact with it, it gives them just the excuse to go in after it, and so Holden, Nora, Zahir, Sunni and Ritzie enter the ancient pyramid and go exploring.

This is yet another one of those “shaky cam” horror movies where everything the characters do is being filmed by one of them. This doesn’t always make sense in THE PYRAMID. There are several times when it doesn’t really make sense that anyone from their group is doing the filming, but they don’t let that get in the way of the story.

The set-up was okay, but for the first hour or so, I found myself feeling a strong sense of déjà vu. Another shaky cam horror movie that came out earlier this year, AS ABOVE, SO BELOW, dealt with very similar circumstances, as a group of people with video cameras went down into a part of the catacombs under Paris that tourists don’t see, and come across some dangerous situations.

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For a while, it seems like the most dangerous thing in THE PYRAMID is going to be the walls and floors of the structure itself, as stones collapse and floors fall out beneath the characters. There are also strange, CGI flesh-eating cats that scurry through the passageways, that the people have to try to stay clear of. The movie kept my interest for the most part, but didn’t seem all that special. There are just way too many movies like this, and I’m starting to think the genre of “hand held camera” movies, at least in horror, has burned itself out at this point.

But the final half hour of the movie ratchets up the danger, as the explorers’ situation grows more and more dire, and there’s even a surprise visit from the Egyptian god Anubis, which turns things up a few notches (Egyptian gods make just about anything cooler).  By the end, I felt much better about this movie than I did earlier, but it takes its time getting to the good stuff.

The cast does a serviceable job. The biggest star here is probably Denis O’Hare, who some people will recognize from playing several characters in the FX series AMERICAN HORROR STORY (even more will recognize him as Russell, one of the best characters from the later seasons of HBO’s TRUE BLOOD). Ashely Hinshaw is another TRUE BLOOD veteran (she played Brigette), as well as having been in the very good (shaky cam) flick CHRONICLE (2012). James Buckley is most famous for being in the British TV series and movies about the INBETWEENERS.

THE PYRAMID is the directing debut of Gregory Lavasseur, who previously wrote the screenplays for the Alexandre Aja flicks HIGH TENTION (2003) the HILLS HAVE EYES remake (2006) and MIRRORS (2008) as well as the 2012 remake of MANIAC, with Elijah Wood. Lavasseur does an okay job here. The screenplay for THE PYRAMID is by Daniel Meersand and Nick Simon.

For the most part, THE PYRAMID is a pretty forgettable horror flick. Until that last half hour, which I really liked, but it wasn’t enough to save the movie. I give it two and a half knives.

If you’re into this sort of thing, then you should check the movie out, but wait for it to come to cable on-demand or Netflix. It’s not worth the price of a movie ticket.

© Copyright 2014 by L.L. Soares

 

L.L. Soares gives THE PYRAMID ~ two and a half knives!

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