Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Pyramid

2/4

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

Rated R for Some Horror Violence and Bloody Images

I meant to see this movie when it came out last year.  I really did.  But it came and went so fast that I never got a chance (not a good sign of quality...).  It's about Ancient Egypt, if only tangentially, and it's a horror movie that's not a remake or a sequel (and it has an R-rating to boot).  Sadly, while the it's certainly watchable, it's by no means as terrifying as it could be.

A pyramid has just been discovered buried beneath the sands of Egypt.  Sent to dig it up and study it are the father-daughter team of Miles (O'Hare) and Nora (Hinshaw) Holden.  Also with them is a news crew led by a reporter named Sunni (Nicola) and her cameraman Fitzie (Buckley).  Because of the increasingly violent protests in Cairo, the government has shut down the excavation.  But this is the chance of a lifetime, and Nora isn't about to let it slip through her fingers.  Soon, however, they become trapped, and just when things couldn't get any worse, they do.

"The Pyramid" is a hybrid of the "found footage" genre and a traditional horror movie.  While most of the film is shot with cameras held by the actors, there are some establishing shots and traditional camerawork.  Whether this was intentional or Gregory Levasseur, longtime collaborator of Alexandre Aja, was so excited that he got the chance to make a movie that he forgot what kind of movie he was making, I'm not sure.  Surprisingly, it works.

If only the same could be said about the writing and especially the acting.  The film blatantly steals from other horror movies, mainly "The Descent" (although last year's "As Above So Below" is referenced too).  In fact, the film resembles Neil Marshall's masterpiece in so many ways that the term "rip-off" starts to apply.  And while Levasseur can generate some moments of tension here and there, he's got nothing on Marshall.

The less said about the acting, the better.  The characters aren't very interesting, especially since they're shadows of other characters in better horror movies.  Former Abercrombie & Fitch model Ashley Hinshaw has the lead, and that's a bad thing.  She's cute, but she can't act, and her character, a wimpy, whiny bimbo, is irritating.  Denis O'Hare, a respected character actor (he played Senator John Briggs in "Milk"), does what he can, but he lacks the charisma to pull this kind of role off.  James Buckley and Christa Nicola are also on hand, and like the others, they're boring and occasionally annoying.

And yet, I kind of enjoyed myself.  I had some cheap laughs at its expense, some raising of the tension, and one terrific shock.  The story, which sticks closer to Ancient Egyptian mythology than "The Mummy" or its sequel, doesn't always make a lot of sense, however.  Even taking history out of the equation.

Is it worth seeing?  Probably not.  If you can't get enough mummies, you're not going to hate yourself if you watch it.  Otherwise, just watch "The Descent."

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