The Pyramid (Blu-ray)

It’s all fun and games until an evil walking Egyptian god eats your soul.

I loathe found-footage movies. Comedy, horror, sci-fi, whatever — my patience for the shaky-cam, POV approach to filmmaking is about as robust as a nitrogen molecule. As I watch, I’m just constantly reminded how hard everyone is working to keep up the façade. As a gimmick, it worked okay the first couple of times (Blair Witch obviously, but that movie has aged about as well as the Blair Witch herself), but anything I’ve had to endure in this filming style since has been nothing but grating.

The Pyramid is sort of a found-footage film. For the majority of the runtime, the action is shot from the perspective of a news crew videographer, sent to tag along to document a revolutionary discovery among the Egyptian pyramids. When the film demands it however, it shifts to standard “third-person” photography. This is fine in that it lowered my personal irritation level, but it smacks of “wanted to have it both ways.”

Still, I won’t complain about a welcome lack of motion sickness, so how does the rest of this Alexandre Aja-produced supernatural horror odyssey stack up against its brethren? Surprisingly not terrible.

The plot is simple: a recent dig reveals a long-lost pyramid. Ecstatic at the find, a father-daughter team of archaeologists (and their assorted nerd friends) begin plans to learn the mysteries of the pyramid. The buzz is so great a journalist tags along, hoping for the scoop of the century.

Against their own common sense and, really, anyone’s common sense, the group decides to venture into the tomb with their cameras and various archaeological tools — shovels, picks a toothbrush perhaps? — and SURPRISE! They learn that they are not alone and scramble to survive a new, terrifying evil.

That evil is the lynchpin of The Pyramid and your reaction to its reveal and on-screen presence will ultimately dictate your feelings on the entire film. I won’t get too deep into it because the reveal is actually done pretty well, but know this: it’s got mythology behind it, takes the film down a hardcore supernatural route, and is filthy with CGI. Those are your own hints.

Me? I got a kick out of the “twist.” The effects were hit-and-miss, but during the creepier moments (the grainy night vision of the found footage camera eased the burden of the CGI) I found it effective. My disbelief was never suspended, but the menacing tone and the claustrophobia of the pyramid provided enough horror juice to keep somewhat engaged. And for gore-hounds, the kills should satisfy, a clever blend of practical wizardry and sly computer enhancement.

As far as characters go, it’s the usual cannon fodder. I can’t remember anyone’s names and the mother and father stand out only because the daughter kept shouting “Dad!” at the top of her lungs. One misstep is definitely the final sequence, a stale conceit that still managed to be confusing.

Fox’s The Pyramid (Blu-ray) is effective, starting with a strong 2.35:1/1080p transfer and an aggressive DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio mix. Four brief featurettes and an image gallery round out the extras.

An adequate horror film with some well-placed jump scares and inventive deaths. That is, I fear, the apex of The Pyramid’s achievement.

THE VERDICT
Not Guilty. There are some good points.

Tech Specs
The Pyramid (Blu-ray) 2015, Fox, 89 minutes, R (2014)
VIDEO: 2.35:1, 1080p     AUDIO:  DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio (English). Dolby Digital 5.1 (French, Spanish)
SUBTITLES: English SDH, Spanish  EXTRAS: Featurettes, Galleries      ACCOMPLICES: IMDB

buynowamz

 

Good

  • Nice Egyptian shocks throughout
  • Good creature design
  • Effectively claustrophbic

Bad

  • Forgettable characters
  • Gimmicky POV
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