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Posted: December 10, 2014

‘The Pyramid’ holds ludicrous surprises amid horror-film thrills

Written by: Wire Services
James Buckley, left, Christa Nicola, Ashley Hinshaw and Denis O’Hare in “The Pyramid.” Courtesy photo

James Buckley, left, Christa Nicola, Ashley Hinshaw and Denis O’Hare in “The Pyramid.” Courtesy photo

When father-daughter archaeologists Miles and Nora Holden (Denis O’Hare and Ashley Hinshaw) discover a previously unknown pyramid buried beneath the sands of Egypt, they, like fools, rush in. But not before one of their diggers succumbs to what they believe to be poisoning by a blast of toxic gas rushing out from the structure’s long-sealed chambers, leading to convulsions and foaming at the mouth.

The air inside the pyramid isn’t the only thing that’s stale in this ludicrous yet mildly likable horror film.

Set, for no discernible reason, during Egypt’s 2013 political uprising, and utilizing the now mummified technique of found footage, “The Pyramid” approaches – without ever quite achieving – so-bad-it’s-good territory. I can already imagine a drinking game where viewers take a shot whenever someone says, “Did you hear that?” except for the fact that players would likely be too drunk to stay awake for the end, which is when things really get good (by which I mean bad).

One especially memorable sequence, in this booby-trapped tomb straight out of the “Indiana Jones” movies, involves an almost-comical attempt to rescue someone who has been impaled alive on a bed of foot-long spikes (placed there, it would seem, to catch victims for some horrible supernatural entity). It’s like an old episode of “Rescue 911” crossed with “The Living Dead” and “Grimm.”

Accompanied by a documentarian (Christa Nicola), her cameraman (James Buckley), Nora’s boyfriend (Amir K) and a $3 million robotic camera on loan from NASA – yeah, right, nobody’s that good at grant-writing – Miles and his plucky daughter quickly get lost, as does filmmaker Gregory Levasseur. The plot’s logic, like the protagonists, goes around in circles.

For example, in order to explain the presence of feral Sphynx cats, still alive inside the pyramid after millennia, Miles speculates that each successive generation may have been cannibalistically feeding on the previous one – just, as he puts it, “like rats.” “That would explain the air toxicity,” he notes, sagaciously.

The idiocy of this exchange also helps explain the campy charm of this lame-brained but laughably inoffensive thriller.

“THE PYRAMID,” starring Ashley Hinshaw, James Buckley and Denis O’Hare. Directed by Grégory Levasseur. Written by Daniel Meersand and Nick Simon. A 20th Century Fox release. Rated R for some horror violence and bloody images. Running time: 1:29

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