Movie review: ‘The Pyramid’
Directed by Gregory Levasseur
Starring Ashley Hinshaw, Denis O’Hare, James Buckley, Christa Nicola, Amir K, Faycal Attougui, Philip Shelley
Rated R, Horror, 89 minutes
A myriad of silly scares punctuate “The Pyramid,” an R-rated horror barely gory enough to please the adolescent crowd who will doubtlessly ask mom and dad to add this one to their Netflix queue.
Set in Egypt, Holden and Nora (Denis O’Hare and Ashley Hinshaw) comprise a bickering father-daughter team of archeologists. Each holds wildly divergent views regarding the origins of a triangular pyramid, their “find of the century,” located in the heart of the Egyptian desert.
On hand to chronicle the pyramid’s unearthing and ongoing father-daughter disagreements are Sunni and Fitzie (Christa Nicola and James Buckley), with Sunni delivering sensationalized commentary while he struggles to frame the right shot and also capture footage of Nora’s romance with the dig’s resident tech whiz Zahir (Amir K).
Certain details, such as incessantly barking stray dogs and an omnipresent military determined to grab any booty, give the film a “lived-in” feel. But, more often than not, that credibility is spoiled by substandard dialogue and acting that comes off as acting.
Although the pyramid emits toxic fumes that kill the worker who opens its entrance, Nora persuades her father to search the pyramid for the team’s cute robotic explorer, a $3 million machine owned by NASA, which went missing while functioning as their surrogate explorer. Nora’s boyfriend Zahir, charged with the robot’s care, tags along because it’s his responsibility to return the robot to the space agency. Sunni is thrilled to be the first reporter inside, and where she goes, cameraman Fitzie follows.
Wearing masks for protection from the pyramid’s fetid odor, the quintet soon discovers themselves hopelessly lost within the structure’s catacombs. Worse, they are being hunted by an unidentified killer. Heralding its presence are dog-sized sphinxes poised to attack any unprotected invader.
Inventive deaths and injuries include being crushed by falling rocks and plummeting onto old-fashioned wooden spikes. In some respects the film recalls the first “Resident Evil” zombie flick, except that these archeologists are essentially fish in a barrel. Following the death of the team’s second member, Holden attempts broadcasting a rescue plea to the outside world, advising them to “bring guns.”
The creature behind all the carnage appears to be both blind and plodding, except when required to stop any team member who makes a serious bid for escape. While the sphinxes are deftly rendered in computer-generated imagery, the eventual sight of the killer creature is a disappointment. Sometimes it’s a computer graphic, at others times it looks like a stunt man dressed in a rubberized suit.
Touch sensitive statues and hieroglyphs lead to a selection of collapsing ceilings and floors, sand traps and shape-shifting walls that add an element of big, dumb fun. About the fourth time the team is assailed, one character admonishes another, “Could you just stop being an archeologist for a minute, and be a human being?” Seriously? Where would the fun be in that?
We don’t go to a film like this hoping for, or even wanting, everyone to survive, but here’s a hint for the writing team of Nick Simo and Daniel Meers: Next time please don’t kill off the only character worth rooting for. Thanks.