DVD REVIEW: THE PYRAMID / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: GREGORY LEVASSEUR / SCREENPLAY: DANIEL MEERSAND, NICK SIMON / STARRING: ASHLEY HINSHAW, DENIS O’HARE, JAMES BUCKLEY, DANIEL AKERMAN / RELEASE DATE: APRIL 13TH
The Pyramid isn’t, as you might have heard, an especially bad movie. It’s no stinker. It does its thing - team of archaeologists ill-advisedly invade a recently-excavated pyramid long-hidden under the Egyptian desert - with briskness and with absolutely no pretension. But by God we’ve seen all this before; you’ll be reminded of The Descent as our heroes wriggle and squeeze through tight spaces, and last year’s As Above, So Below told a very similar tale of explorers lost and terrorised in the hidden catacombs deep below the streets of Paris. Oh, and there’s that little matter of the easy-come, easy-go (more often gone) ‘found footage’ gimmick…
The Pyramid has a few aces up it sandy sleeve, though. Our team - and yes, that’s The Inbetweeners’ Jay in the cast list wielding the camera and making wisecracks - foolishly enter the newly-found pyramid despite the noxious gas it’s already emitted and the fact that they’ve been told to evacuate the area because of escalating tensions in nearby Giza. Of course they get lost almost immediately when the floor caves in beneath them, one of their number gets trapped under rubble, and there appear to be ferocious carnivorous feral cat-creatures roaming the gloomy tunnels. All fairly mundane stuff in the scheme of things - until the stalking, Jackal-like figure of Anubis turns up and the film at least makes an attempt at blending some genuine Egyptian mythology into what’s otherwise a routine if suitably claustrophobic pot-pourri of familiar ‘trapped underground’ clichés.
Inevitably the script’s not really big on character and emotional resonance. Violent deaths - and there are a few good ones here - are quickly forgotten or laughed off and the ‘found footage’ element of the film is often conveniently sidelined when the story needs to open up its sense of visual scale by throwing in a spooky shot of a mysterious shadowy creature approaching out of the dark or to heighten moments of dramatic tensions when the survivors are literally running for their lives and there’s no-one to point the camera at them.
But The Pyramid charges along in its own relentlessly derivative way and it’s not without its moments, especially as the group rush to escape a tunnel filling with sand, one character falls into a floor full of spikes and, pinned to the ground, is set upon by the cat-creatures and, until he’s revealed in all his glory (exposing the unfinished-looking CGI to merciless close-up) Anubis is a formidable-looking beast. Lively, energetic but scuppered by the over-familiarity of both its core narrative and the lazily and randomly-employed ‘found footage’ trope, The Pyramid is unashamedly B-Movie stuff and, if you don’t expect too much of it, we sphinx there’s a chance you’ll have a decent ninety minutes in its company (whew, think I got away with that one…).
Special Features: Featurettes / Extended ending