Sunday, 10 May 2015

Sandy Terror and an Ancient Shaft! Review of The Pyramid (2014)

The Pyramid (2014)
Director: Grégory Levasseur
Starring: Ashley Hinshaw, James Buckley, and  Denis O'Hare
Running Time: 89 min

  It's funny but I secretly have been looking forward to seeing this movie.  There aren't enough mummy movies out there, ever since that film with Brandon Fraser, what was it called..., "Encino Man".   Anyway since then the Mummy character has become like dust in the wind and vanished from the horror scene.  And although, I get burned almost every time with these Fox horror movies, I have faith that this is going to be the one that is going to turn it around.  Plus it was produced by Alexandre Aja (Haute Tension, Piranha 3D), whose directorial style I enjoy, so what could go wrong?

  Set in 2013 during the Egyptian protests, an archaeological father and daughter team, Dr. Miles and Nora Holden, discover a ancient pyramid that has been buried for centuries.  Reporter Sunni Marsh and her trusty camera man, Fitzie are there to do a story on this brilliant find amongst all this political turmoil.  During interviews, Miles and Nora explain that they used "technology" to locate and figure out the depth and size of the pyramid, which is almost begrudging to Miles, who is an old school archeologist and likes to dig in the sand.  Anyway, they find out that the some of the workers have discovered the front door to this pyramid and everyone rushes over to see what happens when they crack this baby open.  Standing unusually close, the team watches has a man pries the door open and gets hit in the face with a blast of ancient dust!  Everybody gets hit with this rank blue soot but fortunately no one gets hurt, except for the guy opening the door, which the team thinks is terrible, I guess, but the door is open now, so who cares.
  That night while everybody is celebrating the great door opening,  Sunni and Fitzie are introduced to Shorty, the robot cam who costs 3 million dollars and was borrowed from NASA to survey the tomb by Nora's love interest Michael.  Sadly though Shorty may never complete his mission because they all find out that the protests have become too violent and it is unsafe for them to be here right now.  Everyone has been given 24hrs to evacuate the site or else.  Frustrated and angry, Dr. Holdens decide that they are going to use Shorty to do a quick survey of the pyramid then they'll leave.  They must know what's inside, it can't just be stinky dust.
  The next morning, the team is in awe of Shorty's finding, not just stinky dust but empty hallways and darkness.  Then, Shorty is attacked by something, they think a wild dog may have gotten into the pyramid, and signal and video gets completely disabled.  Just then a soldier comes into remind them that they need to leave, however Michael is having a hissy fit about how much the robot costs and how Shorty needs to be retrieved.  Somehow, Miles is able to convince the soldier that they will be out of there soon and the Holdens and Michael go into the pyramid to save their robot friend with Sunnie and Fitzie right behind to get all the action on tape.  Before going in though, Miles tethers himself to a stake outside and ties some heavy duty long string to himself so they all can find their way back out of the pyramid.  It's like a labyrinth but without David Bowie.
  Once inside, everyone is amazed at now awesome and ancient the place is and they find some hieroglyphics that they kind of glaze over, tomb, curse, mumbo jumbo, whatever! Then after going through some an apex, they discover a bunch of ancient weapons and one even has archaic blood crusted on it. eeeww!  But that's not the only revelation in the apex, Miles soon learns that his tether has been cut and they have no way of knowing how to get out of the pyramid.
  They climb down and play eenie meenie and head in a direction which leads them to the partial carcass of Shorty the robot.  Almost in tears, Michael vows to get revenge for his 3 million dollar robot buddy but they have bigger problems than that right now, because the floor is collapsing.  They plummet down further into the pyramid and just when everybody miraculously seems to be ok from this massive fall, an enormous block falls directly on Michael.  Somehow, it doesn't kill him but it does pin his leg and everyone, except Sunni, tries to pull the stone off but no dice.  The rest of the team try to find a way out and Sunni finds a shaft that she thinks she can climb on to escape.  Unfortunately while climbing this ancient shaft, she is attacked by a creature in the dark and it scratches up her pretty face.  The decide to go through a blocked door, that nobody noticed early somehow and promise Michael that they will bring back help before he bleeds out.  Sadly just after they leave, Michael starts howling in terror and pain!  Miles and Nora race back to see what is happening and discover that Michael is gone and all that is left a bloody trail into the darkness!  Can this team of explorers escape whatever creature is inside this horrible pyramid or are they destined to become relics themselves in time worn tomb?

    
  Well, this wasn't that bad all things considered.  First time director Grégory Levasseur brings a pretty straight forward found footage hybrid film that relies to heavily on CGI scares.  The most disappointing thing is..., SPOILER ALERT... that its not a mummy in the tomb but "something else".
The "something else" is kind of interesting but it never fully pans out or gives a larger scale view of why this "something else" is here and now it will eventually affect everybody else on planet Earth/The Universe/Rigel 7.  It just kind of gives you a bit of a scare, then falls into a predictable horror pattern.  So meh.
  Also, I was surprised at how bad the "archaeologists" were at their jobs.  They were missing really obvious and vital key information on the walls and anyone, including Admiral Ackbar, who has seen any of the Indiana Jones movies knows that these ancient pyramids have traps. Unfortunately, none of the characters went through "Archaeologist 101" and were touching things left right and center, so when they are being pummeled by things was really inevitable and deserving.
  Furthermore the CGI for the most part wasn't that great.  The stone that fell DIRECTLY on the Michael character standing up and then only moments later, it's just his leg that is pinned by the stone.  This doesn't make sense and it looks bad.  I blame this shot on the director not the effects person, because Michael should have been pinned when the floor caved in and not by having something drop on him.  As well as the CGI tomb cats are done decently but I wasn't crazy about the scenes where they were feeding on the flesh of these adventures.  It just looked really fake and it took me out of the story at times.  The "something else" isn't bad either and for the most part it's a good looking "something else" but it does look like a CGI monster/person/sock puppet/jar of syrup and not something real. 


  With that said, I think that the performances of Denis O'Hare (Tru Blood, American Horror Story) who plays Dr. Miles Holden and James Buckley (The Inbetweeners), who plays Fitzie is probably the saving grace for the film.  They play there characters as well as the script allows them to and Buckley has some funny moments. 


   Not horrible butI wish this was better, because I would love to see a really good Mummy or Egyptian type horror.  So many great and terrifying stories to work with and this film just seems to fall short in every aspect.  The concept is interesting but doesn't seem researched enough & doesn't have a clear idea of where it wants to go or even end.  The CGI is good but it doesn't look real enough to make it that scary, but if your good if that, then there are some gory scenes.  So, if your digging through a treasure trove of new horror movies, this may not be find of the century but it shouldn't be completely buried in the sand.

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