In this edition of The silver liningwe will cover Gregory Levasseurthe film Found Footage based on Egyptology, The pyramid.
Acclaimed director Alexandre Aja rose to fame as a member of the French Extremity movement of the early 2000s after shocking audiences with the intense gore High tension (A.K.A High Voltage / Romance Switchblade). While this particular little slasher flick ultimately led Aja to an international career as a celebrity director and producer, some of his success can be attributed to his friend and frequent collaborator, Grégory Levasseur.
Of High tension at The hills Have Eyes and even 3D piranhas, Aja has always been supported by Levasseur, who co-wrote and produced most of her projects. Which is why it stands to reason that the director would eventually pull some strings and put together a budget for Levasseur to make his feature debut, which would come as a one-off Found Footage effort.
Set in modern Egypt, 2014s The pyramid recounts a duo of archaeologists (Ashley Hinshaw and Denis O’Hare) and a cameraman (James Buckley) that stumble upon a mysterious structure buried beneath the Egyptian desert. When their remote-controlled drone is attacked by something hidden in this new pyramid, the group decides to investigate, which leads to a claustrophobic ride with deadly traps and ancient curses.
With a genre-based dream team behind the scenes, an interesting setting, and a unique setup for a Found Footage movie, it seemed like The pyramid was primed to be a terrifying throwback to the Egyptology-inspired classics of yesteryear.
SO WHAT WRONG?
Whereas The pyramid technically wasn’t a flop, making nearly $17 million off a $6.5 million budget, most of those profits came from international audiences, as the film severely underperformed in the US . This disappointment was not limited to the box office, however, as the film was also poorly reviewed by critics, with the film currently sitting at a disheartening 13% on Rotten Tomatoes.
The media accused the film of falling victim to several classic Found Footage mistakes, such as relying on amateur photographs and paper-thin characters to tell a superficial story – not to mention more than a few instances of unconvincing digital effects. . In general, critics agreed that the film lacked both the polish to make it a fun thriller and the grungy production techniques that are supposed to make Found Footage projects compelling in the first place.
To make matters worse, there have been several complaints about the film’s seemingly callous portrayal of the 2013 Egyptian revolution, with the storyline using the real-world event as a mere plot rather than a nuanced political move with serious consequences in the real world. Egyptologists have also pointed to a series of historical blunders, such as the villainous depiction of Anubis (who was a mostly benevolent god in the original mythology) and the movie not knowing that humans only started breeding sphinx cats. in the 1960s.
Of course, the biggest problem here is The pyramidlack of commitment to the Found Footage formula, with the film lazily relying on impossible camera angles and unclear viewpoints to tell its story. While the techniques of making hybrid films can be an interesting experience, the lack of narrative focus here kind of defeats the purpose of making a Found Footage film, as it’s hard to be immersed in the story when this “documentary” suddenly jumps to an impossible third. downed person.
In the end, the film’s reception was so absurdly negative that 20th Century Fox actually refused to fund a physical release in most countries, cruelly burying the film like the titular pyramid.
THE SILVER LINING
The pyramid may not be an undiscovered classic, but I’d say there are enough interesting ideas here to make it worth revisiting despite its admittedly lazy Found Footage approach and clunky script (to which Levasseur and Aja did not contribute). At the very least, the movie doesn’t earn its snoozefest reputation when it’s actually a fast-paced expedition with plenty of legitimately thrilling scares.
For starters, the film’s Egyptian setting already sets it apart from most other low-budget studio horror films, especially when it strives to color the experience with a well-constructed atmosphere and plenty of historical plot. In fact, at the end of the film, I wanted a take of Found Footage on The Mummywith Levasseur’s film illustrating how a more grounded approach to genre cinema could return the universal monster to its terrifying roots.
And speaking of terrifying, there are some intensely spooky moments towards the end of the film, with the night vision-laden Anubis sequence being a particularly solid example of Found Footage’s visuals becoming nightmares. The CGI might get in the way of some of those scares (especially when feral cats are involved), but there’s no denying that the ideas on display here are interesting and, more importantly, downright scary.
At the end of the day, I believe The pyramid is a fun midnight movie with a handful of noxious deaths and a memorable finale. Your mileage may vary depending on how easily you can handle the film’s non-diagetic failures and general lack of historical accuracy, but I’d still recommend this one to fans of other claustrophobic Found Footage movies like As above so below and The tunnel. Just be sure to stock up on catnip if you dare to venture inside this cursed tomb.
Watching a bad movie doesn’t have to be a bad experience. Even the worst movies can boast a good idea or two, and that’s why we try to look on the bright side with The silver liningwhere we spotlight the best parts of traditionally maligned horror movies.