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Pyramid, The
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by Jay Seaver

"Buried, and not without reason."
3 stars

I can (and to a certain extent, will) rattle off the ways that "The Pyramid" is disappointing, subpar, and lucky to find a particularly barren release date in order to avoid a direct-to-VOD fate. But even though I can see the film's weaknesses, I readily admit - I kind of love this sort of adventure-horror, with the underground chambers full of writing in dead languages and secret passages and death-traps, so I'm inclined to cut it some slack. That said, the filmmakers do a better job than most trying to make a modern horror movie out of this sort of pulp adventure.

With last year's protests and confrontations in Cairo as the backdrop, we're introduced to father/daughter archaeologists Miles (Denis O'Hare) and Nora Holden (Ashley Hinshaw), investigating a completely buried tetrahedral pyramid some sixty miles away that was found via satellite radar. Just as they find a tunnel in, the dig is called off, with orders to evacuate the foreigners. Nora's boyfriend Michael Zahir (Amir K) manages to buy a little time to send a robot down the tunnel, but when they lose the signal, they opt to retrieve NASA's multi-million-dollar piece of equipment, with documentarian Sunni (Christa Nicola) and her cameraman Fitzie (James Buckley) in tow. This, obviouslly, is not a great idea.

There is a fair bit of unnecessary ornamentation to the movie, especially at the beginning; the perfunctory character introductions are not only bog-standard but don't even set up conflicts and traits that will pay off later: The early discussion of how Miles doesn't really cotton to Nora's high-tech methods (think Sam Neill not getting along with the imaging systems in the opening minutes of Jurassic Park without the charm) matters not at all once they're inside the pyramid, and a comment about how Fitzie always has to get the shot seems really strange when his defining characteristic has been wanting to run away. There is enough effort put into establishing video sources in the beginning to make the film seem like it will be found-footage until director Gregory Levasseur decides to go the hybrid route, making a conventional movie with a lot of first-person shots.

It's a hybrid approach that mostly works, though - Levasseur, editor Scott C. Silver, and the cinematographers do a fairly good job of using the third-person view to establish what is going on clearly while the frequent cuts to the cameras that the characters are carrying around keep the audience aware of how dark or chaotic things actually would seem from inside the situation. The environment the crew has built is slick as well - though the dialogue does have to periodically remind us that things smell really bad, there's a fine combination of decayed and untouched. The actual designs are occasionally nifty, too, shifting from familiar Egyptian motifs to creepy, more primitive ones.

With that set-up done well, the filmmakers are able to exploit that running around this sort of tomb is one of the most enjoyable things you can do in an adventure movie: The combination of the thrill of discovery, the awe at ancient things given supernatural significance, and the presence of danger is a potent combination. The filmmakers give us plenty of Saturday-serial goodies - secret passages, collapsing floors, and classic traps. It's boosted by capably nasty make-up when things do not go the explorers' way and some digital monster effects. The latter could honestly be better; it's worth noting that when the movie is jumping between a simple room filling with sand and some gross, effects-driven mayhem, it's the simple thing driving most of the suspense.

It's a good enough combination between old-school adventure and bloody mayhem to be a fun watch, even if it does wind up going to the well too many times or could use one performance that connects with the audience as well as Perdita Weeks in the somewhat similar "As Above So Below". I can't exactly recommend "The Pyramid" if you don't already like this somewhat narrow variety of thriller, but I also can't deny that it scratches the itch of those of us who do.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=27380&reviewer=371
originally posted: 12/06/14 08:08:28
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User Comments

11/25/15 brian Monumentally stupid....and thinks it audience is, too. 1 stars
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  05-Dec-2014 (R)
  DVD: 05-May-2015

  05-Dec-2014 (15)

  DVD: 05-May-2015

Directed by
  Gregory Levasseur

Written by
  Daniel Meersand
  Nick Simon

  Ashley Hinshaw
  Denis O'Hare
  James Buckley
  Christa Nicola
  Amir K

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