Fans of horror films who are also fans of the Brit television comedy The Inbetweeners, and the two films it spawned, will love The Pyramid where an archaeological team are digging up trouble, but no mummy, in the middle of the Egyptian desert after they unearth the three sided tomb of a pharaoh. Directed by Grégory Levasseur, who is best known for writing and producing The Hills Have Eyes and Mirrors, this is his first time helming a feature length film and the screenplay was written by Daniel Meersand (The 7th Claus, Removal) and Nick Simon (The 7th Claus, Removal).
The film stars, American Horror Story‘s Denis O’Hare as the archaeologist Holden, who is father of Nora, played by Ashley Hinshaw (About Cherry, Chronicle) and the father/daughter team have found this rare pyramid which only has three sides, the only one in the world, apparently. Documentary filmmaker Sunni, played by Christa Nicola (who is perhaps better known as Kirsty in the Aussie soap Home and Away) is following the pair’s every move with her cameraman, Fitzie (James Buckley and this is where The Inbetweeners fits in) recording everything for posterity.
The dig is taking place during protests in Cairo that are rapidly getting out of control, obviously meant to represent or at least allude to the Egyptian Revolution, although the technology in the film makes that unlikely. When Holden and Nora open up the tomb, poisonous air infects one worker and as the teams of documentary filmmaker and archaeologists start to plan studying this discovery, the government of Egypt demand that the dig be shut down for the safety of all concerned.
Despite the find being miles away from the riots in the streets of Cairo, the dig must be closed within 24 hours and all personnel vacated from the area. Tech specialist, and boyfriend to Nora, Zahir talks Holden into sending down a rover, on loan from NASA, to at least look inside the pyramid before they have to leave. A soldier who has been posted with the teams to make sure they leave reluctantly agrees to let them do this tiny bit of exploration. The small quintet of explorers enter the pyramid after the rover stops transmitting when it is attacked by “dogs” in the tomb. The group being digging up trouble almost immediately, with no mummy in sight, and they quickly discover that they are not alone in the three sided structure.
Horror films are historically full of characters who are not the sharpest tools in the shed. Apparently even archaeologists suffer from the type of errant stupidity that makes their deaths fait accompli the moment they put themselves in jeopardy. While the two seekers of ancient knowledge may be pretty good at reading hieroglyphics inside the pyramid, when it comes to survival, the duo along with the rest of the bunch fall well short of what is needed to get out alive. The first member to have his life threatened could have been saved with some long, and very stout looking, wooden poles placed not three feet from the poor doomed character, but not one of the remaining four people even look at the things leaning against an entrance.
Of course these type of films do not usually feature Indiana Jones types who can traverse all perils without dying. The Pyramid and its small core of explorers entertains without paying a lot of attention to logic. Fortunately, all the characters are at least likeable, even the pompous ass, Holden. James Buckley, better known as The Inbetweeners sex mad and pathological liar Jay, plays the slightly comedic cameraman Fitzie in this horror tale set in the desert. While fans of Buckley’s previous work may take a while to recognise the man, he sports a different hair style and has a beard, his voice, even when behind the camera, tells the audience who he is immediately.
The style of The Pyramid borders on found footage, but only just. It follows the format to degree, but offers views of the participants that fall outside the POV angles with no apology or explanation of where this spectral camera has come from. Despite being set in a tomb in the desert, even featuring a sarcophagus, there is no mummy. The group end up digging up trouble only because this “one of a kind” structure houses something very terrible. The Pyramid opens December 5 be prepared to be a little scared, slightly amused and disappointed that James Buckley does not call anyone a “bus wanker.”
By Michael Smith
Regal Texas 18 Theatre