Starring: Ashley Hinshaw, Denis O’Hare, Christa Nicola
Things Gregory Levasseur has used his directorial debut to prove he doesn’t understand: archeology, geology, physics, Egyptian mythology, science and, apparently, filmmaking.
Levasseur’s biggest claim to fame to date is as the writer and producer of the 2006 gore-fest remake of “The Hills Have Eyes.” Fast forward eight years, and Levasseur decides he is a director now. The result is “The Pyramid.”
“The Pyramid” tells the story of a father/daughter archeological team that uncovers a new pyramid in the sands of the Egyptian desert. A documentary film crew is on hand to record the dig, which quickly goes wrong when the team’s remote-controlled rover is attacked and destroyed by some unknown creature. In classic horror flick fashion, a small team decides to plunge into the darkness after it, and it works out pretty much exactly as you’d expect it to.
“The Pyramid” sets itself up as a found footage-style film. However, unlike films that have done the genre properly, like “The Blair Witch Project” or “Cloverfield,” Levasseur has no commitment to the idea. He abandons the convention throughout the film’s 90-minute run time when it is not convenient for him, and the film bounces back and forth between a standard narrative setup and the grainy, found footage perspective.
There are a couple of ideas in the film that work, or at least had the potential to work. The setup of suddenly being lost deep underground is one that is ripe with possibility. Combined with a dedicated found-footage approach, there’s potential for legitimate psychological thrills. But Levasseur isn’t aiming that high, so the only scares to be found in “The Pyramid” are low-hanging fruit. The film is full of jump scares, as things pop out nearly every time they should. The “big-bad” is so disappointing that it provides no tension or scare on its own.
The film comes off as the kind of lazy cash grab that you would expect to see from the fourth or fifth installment of a tired franchise. But Levasseur has cut out the hassle of actually making a couple decent movies first. The final, climactic third act was frequently pierced by laughter in the crowd. Writers Dan Meersand and Nick Simon have no concept of the kind of characters they are writing about, so they resort to the broadest strokes possible. Audiences find themselves watching a story of the worst archeologist ever (Denis O’Hare), who complains about technology making his job easier, and who says things like “this job used to be about dirt.”
The story is also full of half-finished ideas. Early on, there is an angle introduced regarding O’Hare’s archeologist disapproving of his archeologist daughter’s (Ashley Hinshaw) romance with a third member of the team (Amir K), but it’s just as quickly abandoned and never heard from again. Ironically, the best scare of the film comes at the very end, but by that time you will have likely headed down the aisle and out the door. CV