If you read my review for The Babadook, you’ll recall that one of my primary praises for that film was the use of practical effects in crafting its monster. Mister Babadook, while not being shown that often, was truly scary. Among the many directors that need to look at The Babadook for help in improving their own craft is Grégory Levasseur (The Hills Have Eyes, Mirrors), whose latest film The Pyramid has one of the worst cases of poor editing on a “scary monster” that I have ever seen. No, I mean it. It’s bad.
The Pyramid opens in a documentary-like style (this is a found-footage horror movie, by the way) with the pyramids of the Egyptian desert. The story is, archeologists have just uncovered something historical, monumental, game changing, etc. An ancient pyramid has been uncovered beneath the surface of the desert. Film crews are flocking to get their shots, the military is heavily guarding the area, and there is much talk about protesters swarming the streets of Cairo for some unknown reason. And what would a found-footage horror movie be without our main characters, or as I call them, our group of idiots. There are two professionals (Ashley Hinshaw and Dennis O’Hare), and three average joes (James Buckley, Daniel Ammerman, Amir K). After sending in a rover to feed them images of the pyramid’s interior, the group is horrified when it gets destroyed by some unknown presence. So instead of saying screw the robot, they say what every stupid character in any stupid horror movie ever has said while standing outside a dangerous building with dangerous creatures inside: “We have to go in.”
After they enter, it quickly becomes a race against time as the entrances seem to disappear and the oxygen gets low… wait a minute, nope. There’s one moment in the movie when a character brings up the fact that it has become hard to breathe, which points to the fact that the oxygen level is getting dangerously low. After that, there isn’t one more mention of breathing troubles. But that’s the least of the film’s problems. After they move past what could be a frighteningly effective point of the struggle to find oxygen, they go deeper into the pyramid and they meet ancient sphinx cats, which leads them to believe that it may be a gateway to the underworld. Oh, and there may or not be a giant wolf that rips out hearts to weigh them for judgment. Okay, there’s no “may or may not be” about it. There is a giant wolf that rips out hearts to weigh them for judgment. Just talking about it makes me cringe.
In essence, all this movie ends up being is a found-footage style rip-off of The Descent. Lots of critics rave about that movie and refer to it as a modern classic, and that’s fine and well. I’m not sure if I would go that far, but it’s possible. It’s a genuinely good horror movie with good special effects and scary imagery. Now, you can hate all you want on this year’s As Above/So Below, but I found that film to be good enough to pull out my claustrophobia for the duration and actually spook me a bit in the final act. Sure, AA/SB is also a rip-off of The Descent, but it’s a hell of a lot better than this piece of garbage. The actors don’t do anything (the only semi-good performance is that of Dennis O’Hare), the scares aren’t scary enough, and the pace is excruciating (seriously, this 90-minute feature felt like three hours).
I will give credit where credit is due. The script, while consistently terrible, does offer some interesting elements in regard to sphinx cats ruling the underworld and the pyramid being a domain for them, and some of the statues of the sphinxes did look cool, but that vanishes once you see the monster. The film’s big bad wolf is literally a big, bad, wolf, and he looks so cartoony that I swear they stood up a plasticized replica and based the design off of that. It’s so poorly designed that even someone making movies in the early 2000s would be ashamed. After wolfie arrives, the movie gets sillier and sillier, the very end of the feature is chuckle-worthy, and the song that plays in the final credits is just kicking the audience while we’re already down. This movie really sucks, and I’m done talking about it.
Rated R for some horror violence and bloody images
Starring Ashley Hinshaw, James Buckley, Denis O’Hare
Directed by Grégory Levasseur