The best thing about The Pyramid is that it takes us back to a classic horror situation that we haven’t seen much of lately. A team of archaeologists (with documentary filmmakers in tow) opens a newly discovered Egyptian pyramid and confronts deadly danger as a result. If that setup’s good enough for Boris Karloff, it’s good enough for me.
Instead of letting the menace out as generally happened in the old mummy movies, the protagonists end up trapped inside the pyramid with it, and there are some effective scenes of them traversing the treacherous passages. Since I’m partial to movies set in dark labyrinths, I was good with that, too.
The cast (headed by Ashley Hinshaw, James Buckley, and Denis O’Hare) are capable actors, and the story doesn’t require their characters to be idiots to advance the plot. Well, not complete idiots. The chain of bad decisions that lands them in trouble doesn’t seem entirely imbecilic, maybe just semi-stupid.
Still, The Pyramid isn’t a particularly scary horror movie.
It’s based on a muddled concept and some bad logic throughout. I don’t want to spoil the story, but it’s not giving away too much to say that it mashes science fiction and supernatural notions together in a way that undermines the credibility of both. Or that it’s hard to see why someone building a prison to lock away a monster for all time would incorporate any sort of escape hatch.
And although the actors do their best, the script doesn’t do much to flesh out their characters. They start out with some minor personality issues and conflicts, but none of that matters once they enter the pyramid. Then they just alternately freak out, snap at one another, encourage one another, break out the gallows humor, screw up their courage, and make the risky move like every other group in this type of story, and because they’re so one-dimensional, it’s difficult to care what happens to them.
A lesser (but still annoying) flaw is that much of the movie is shot mockumentary/point of view style. I know a lot of people who are sick to death of this or hated it right from the start with The Blair Witch Project. I don’t have a problem with it as such, but the whole point of it is to make a movie seem more believable by making every frame of it look like found footage. Unfortunately, The Pyramid switches back and forth between mockumentary style and normal film style, and that makes the former pointless. You get all the annoyances of Blair Witch-style scenes—shaky camera, peculiar angles and close-ups—without any of the verisimilitude.
Overall, my reaction to The Pyramid was: “meh”.