The unrelenting terribleness of this film is neither benign nor merciful. The Pyramid (2014, dir. Grégory Levasseur) is a found footage-style supernatural thriller with Ancient Egyptian elements. Set amongst the riots in Cairo that occurred in 2013, a team of intrepid archaeologists has found a massive underground pyramid with a strange shape that makes it unlike anything else ever found. When they lose a very expensive piece of roving equipment inside, the team also heads inside to retrieve it. However, what they find inside the pyramid will change their lives forever.
I watched this because I have a bit of an interest in Ancient Egypt and interesting archaeology. I was interested to see the inside of the fictional pyramid and what the team of silly archaeologists finds inside. I was somewhat not surprised to find that this film is just not very good. There is a strange mix of found footage and traditionally shot film, which just doesn’t make sense because if you’re going to make a found footage-style supernatural thriller, why not do it properly? Even inside the pyramid, there are segments shot by a journalist’s cameraman who also enters the pyramid for some dumb reason, and then other segments that are shot by some unknown other; that is, segments that are shot like a normal thriller film. This is a strange directorial choice which is driven by events that occur later in the film, and it begs the question – why even bother to include the found footage element in the first place?
The cast consists of mostly unknown actors, none of whom are that great, apart from Denis O’Hare, who plays the father archaeologist in the father-daughter team. His performance is dryly academic yet passionate, and the same cannot be said for his daughter character, whose actress (Ashley Hinshaw) is completely ineffectual. We also have “that guy from The Inbetweeners“, James Buckley, who provides the almost-comic relief by being a mildly sarcastic slash funny British cameraman. However it’s quite obvious in some moments that the British quips have been added in post-production, because the sound quality is totally different to all of the other lines of dialogue spoken inside the pyramid. It’s the little things like this which constantly throw you off whilst watching this film.
Sadly, The Pyramid suffers from the classic movie trope of ‘dangerous stupidity by experts who should know better’. In this case, it’s the archaeologists who willingly head into the pyramid despite knowing how dangerous it is, who wander around the various traps inside the pyramid despite having an awareness of what these traps might be, and who willingly provoke the evils inside the pyramid despite being noted archaeologists with a keen awareness of Ancient Egyptian history and religion. As a result of the apparently unintentional overuse of this trope, each scene where something goes wrong is more frustrating than scary.
However, there are some things that I did like about this film. As aforementioned, Denis O’Hare is pretty good. It’s also almost a mistake that some scenes have great tense moments where it feels like our group of protagonists are being watched inside the pyramid – a mistake potentially as a result of this film being half found footage, half normally shot film. The direction is not half bad in the parts that don’t buy in to the found footage horror film craze. The sociopolitical setting was also a nice touch, but it’s a shame that this is underused. And lastly, the set design inside of the pyramid was really intriguing. I almost wish I could wander around the pyramid and have a look at all the hieroglyphs and strange objects.
I suppose I didn’t 100% hate this, but it certainly is not a good film. I quite enjoyed the way The Pyramid built its tension, and the set design inside the pyramid itself. I didn’t even begin to describe how bad the CGI effects are and how I’m not sure whether certain moments were meant to be CGI or practical effects. There’s also a direct allusion to this scene from Alien 3 (1992), which I’m not entirely sure was an homage or a bit of a copy. Ultimately, this film is almost a waste of time. It doesn’t contribute much to either the supernatural/horror genre, nor the found footage genre. I do think the ultimate disappointment in this film lies in its lost potential, as there is really nothing scarier than getting trapped inside a pyramid, and this film is not scary at all.
Watch the trailer here.