Friday, October 2, 2015

The Pyramid (2014)

Look, we're back! And with another found footage horror movie! How wonderful. Actually, it's only sort of a found footage horror film, this time. What does that mean? Well, it means that while some of the movie is clearly of that sort, it also cuts to regular movie angles as well. This actually is kind of nice too, in my opinion, as I get so tired of the fucking shaky cam bullshit. You know what doesn't help accentuate the tension or fear in a horror movie? The camera constantly shaking around like it's a GoPro strapped to the head of one of the twitchy headed people in Jacob's Ladder is not a good way to keep an audience engaged. It's a good way to make them vomit.

Motion sickness is not avant-garde.

By switching up the style, it's definitely a step in a much more palatable direction and it's something I want to thank the filmmakers for right out of the gate. Now, what is this movie, exactly? Well, when the original trailer dropped most people assumed it was a mummy flick. I even heard some people say they figured it was about those weird little pygmy mummies we saw in The Mummy Returns. I could go for that, actually. Like a gang of feral little dolls chasing people around in there. Maybe like the Zuni fetish doll from the Trilogy of Terror films. yeah, just imagine several of that little bastard hunting you down. That'd ruin your day real quick.

Like a Jehovah's Witness but with more pointy bits.
The one thing that was obvious about this film though is that it is a creature feature about people trapped in a pyramid with a thing (or things) out to kill them. And yes, it also takes place in Egypt, so people automatically think mummies because of that. This is a thought that was actually kind of enforced via some of the promotional material for the film, as it clearly was implying a very mummy-esque vibe.

I wonder if they're trying to say there's some sort of curse...perhaps of the mummy variety...
The other interesting thing is that this movie takes place during the actual events in Egypt in 2013 where protests and rioting took place, which we do see some of in the opening of the film. The story concerns a documentary type crew of two filming the new archaeological dig being conducted by the father-daughter team of Miles and Nora Holden. We see some interviews with them and some behind the scenes tension over the father not really wanting to let go of the old ways as his daughter's new techniques and technology are being used for their work. The cameraman is a British gentleman named Fitzie and his partner is a lady named Sunni. Immediately I see them and feel a bit uneasy, as this is starting to smell a bit too much like Quarantine. But, as I said, we soon see there are different camera angles other than POV in here, so it's not quite as annoying. Speaking of cameras, we also meet another character named Michael Zahir who operates a small robot rover.

He's meant to be a lovable pervert, I guess. Because nothing says lovable like voyeurism.
It's fairly obvious that, despite him being about as tactful as a Tri Lam, Zahir and Nora are both into each other. This means we expect something horrible to happen to one of them very soon, because this is a horror movie. Even more so because this is a modern horror movie and that means that it either has to focus on unlikable douches partying or semi-likable characters being tortured. It's a rule. Getting back to the title attraction though, the pyramid itself is a massive structure buried mostly under the ground. It's between 500 and 600 feet deep and they found a tunnel that leads into it, which is pretty fucking suspicious right away. You'd think that means being really cautious, right? Nope, let's just rip that thing open and see what's in there!

That could have gone better.
As you can see, opening a sealed tunnel without proper protective gear is kind of a really bad idea. It's the sort of lesson common sense should really teach you, but this serves the important purpose of introducing a plot point that will be brought up further later and lead absolutely nowhere.

Because it's pointless!
Around this time they get informed that due to the whole rioting and such, they must vacate within 24 hours or else they'll get a stern talking to and possibly murdered by a large group of angry Egyptians. But because they went to all this trouble of opening up the tunnel and letting out fuck knows how many horrible contagions, the group decides they're going to stick their fancy robot in there and see what they can see. It turns out that what they see is a lot of claustrophobic tunnels and Dr. Evil's cat runs by to spook everyone before ripping the camera robot apart. So, sitting in shock they decide to now go recover the broken robot, which doesn't make their military babysitter Shadid very happy. And seeing as his name, when spoken aloud in this film, resembles "shithead"...I can understand why he's probably not happy with most people. But he begrudgingly gives them two hours to go do what should honestly take ten minutes, tops.

"And don't make me come looking for you, ultimately leading to my death as I save you from a horrible monster!"
They grab some face-masks that probably don't really matter now that they've all been doused in green tunnel gas and head into the pyramid where they find first the head of the robot and soon after find the rest in pretty abysmal shape. But that's not all that's in rough shape, as they soon notice the floor is cracking faster the bald guy in Scanners. And just like that guy, it turns into a big mess.

Look, it's Josh Trank's Doctor Doom! Just kidding, Scanners was a good movie.
After waking up at the bottom of the big floor hole, the group decides it's time to be stupid for a bit. This leads to some tension and then a large brick falls on Zahir and crush his leg. Whoopsie! Realizing they can't get it off of him, Sunni notices a vertical tunnel that she thinks she can climb. And yeah, that's great that one of the group is trying to be useful but...um...couldn't you all try climb up the wall alongside where you fell? You guys really didn't seem to fall that far and there are rough looking edges along the wall, so I think it could work just as well. Sunni even says she's a rock climber, so she should be able to scale it without too much a problem, honestly. But nope, let's have her climb into the small tunnel where nothing bad will possibly happen. Something bad happens. Yeah, she finds a smaller tunnel and it has the big shocking reveal monster in it!

A hairless Egyptian cat, who seems to actually be grooming itself when she gets its attention.
Alright, sure, it's clearly feral and feral animals can be really threatening when faced with a large one or a group...but this is one cat. It doesn't look really mutated or anything, it just looks like what it is. I mean, yeah, it's obviously CGI, but come on. It's a cat. I own cats. Cats aren't that scary. You want to know scary? I tend to sleep naked. That's scary. But yeah, it bites her face and she falls down the tunnel on ass. Since the cat is too fierce an enemy for them to face off against as a group, they look for a different way out by going down deeper into the place. Nora is nice enough to leave Zahir a hatchet and flashlight though, so there's that. It really doesn't help much though as within five minutes they hear him screaming and Nora and her father go back to discover he's no long trapped, because something dragged him off up that spooky cat tunnel.

In this tunnel...you're the squeak mouse.
They do have some hope, as they hear what appears to be Shadid, meaning they might be saved with plenty of movie to spare! They crawl through a small tunnel that resembles a certain other tunnel and then get surprised when some cats show up to pursue them. Shadid shows up at the end of the tunnel though, pulling them out and letting rip his machine gun into the tunnel. And afterwards they all clearly see that they were seemingly running from cats, which I hope makes them all feel silly. Yes! Finally, a capable person who is willing to stand up to these varmints! Guess what that means?

He dies. Painfully.
That leaves our group once more up shit creek as they assess the situation and we learn some things about Egyptian history that I remember learning from equal parts comic books and a combination of Gargoyles and Mummies Alive. They go down a hallway and the big smart archaeologist touches something, immediately setting off a trap that causes them all to panic, leading to his daughter nearly getting drowned in sand and Sunni being knocked into a pit of spikes by Fitzie. Fitzie, you're just all kinds of useless, aren't you? If that wasn't bad enough, she didn't die from this and the blood has drawn the attention of those feral cats, who decide to take a break from inbreeding and cannibalism to go start eating the still alive Sunni while her cameraman looks on like a complete moron. The doctors come up with the brilliant plan that cameraboy couldn't have possibly though of to go help her: they toss something down and chase off the fucking cats.

At least Quarantine had a cameraman who beat demon zombies to death with his camera.
They climb down to try and get her off the spikes but it seems that the infection from her cat bite, combined with a spike through her lung, and her neck spurting an apparent arterial spray has made it a bit hard to keep holding on for Sunni, so she joins other capable characters Shadid and Zahir in that Egyptian litter box in the sky. After this we learn some more Egyptian mythology and it's pretty obvious that Miles is falling apart...literally. They find a burial chamber where they run across the body of a Freemason who left a diary saying that a way out lies in the burial chamber. Huzzah! Hope! So, wait, how'd he die? And why is there a big hole in his chest?

PLOT TWIST!!!
Yeah, it turns out all the stuff being talked about with Osiris and Anubis was actually pretty important, as Anubis is literally alive in the pyramid and is ripping out the hearts of whoever shows up so he can try to find a heart pure enough to get him over to the other side with his daddy. Thus, he rips out Miles' heart, because if he can't have his daddy then neither can Nora! This freaks out the remaining too as they realize they are now trapped in a room with a jackal headed god who eats hearts. Fitzie decides that he's fucked anyway, so he goes to capture footage of Anubis with his night vision setting, and they witness the whole ritual of him weighing Miles' heart. But enough of that, they find Shadid's ladder! Fuck this supernatural shit, let's get the hell out of here! And so they climb and climb and Anubis notices so Fitzie finally tries to be useful by shooting at the god and dying.

Bye bye, Fitzie. I hope Sunni punches you in your ghost dick for getting her killed.
It looks like Nora might escape, but nope! Anubis leaps back up and she lights flare to ruin his day. But it only ruins it a little, because he grabs her a few minutes later when she thinks she's safe. She wakes up tied to the same thing her father was when he got his heart weighed and she notices Fitzie on the ground, giving her hope he might wake up and save her. Then Anubis steps on his useless head, reminding her that Fitzie couldn't save shit when he was alive and he definitely ain't saving shit now. Then Anubis begins to slowly motion towards her chest, like a magician about to pull a rabbit out of a hat. Except the rabbit is Nora's heart and that is a trick that is going to really smart. Lucky for her she just happens to have Zahir's hatchet right against her ropes, allowing her to cut herself free and slice open Anubis enough to really inconvenience the shit out of him. A bigger threat to him does show up though: cats. Yes, all those super spooky cats show up an attack Anubis, eating and mauling him because he was dumb enough to have an open wound around them.

"THIS ISN'T THE PUSSY I WANTED! ARGGGHHHH!!"
Nora makes the smart call to quickly scale the ladder and head for that exit, but she collapses when daylight is just in sight. But wait, what's this? Someone shows up to find her! It's the kid from the dig site earlier in the film, who approaches the woman clearly in need of medical attention and instead picks up her camera to play with it. This kid is an asshole. I hope Anubis comes and rips this kid's heart out before the credits roll.

"YOUR WISH IS MY COMMAND, MEDIOCRE ONLINE MOVIE CRITIC!"
That ending is beautiful and it brings me so much joy. Alright, so, that wasn't what everyone thought it would be. At all. There weren't any mummies, that's for damned sure. But, for what it was, it certainly wasn't bad. It wasn't great either. If I had to use any word to describe it, it was kinda okay. Just really okay. As a horror movie it really is pretty standard, even though it had chances to be more interesting. I did like the Egyptian mythology aspect, but ultimately it all felt like it was going too many different directions. There's the whole killer cat angle, which is pretty damn silly. Then there's the disease/infection angle, which leads nowhere at all. And finally, we have the Anubis reveal, which did catch me a little off guard as I assumed the cats just had a large momma cat running around and that it was what killed Shadid. I think I actually would've preferred that too, because I already had a hard time taking to scary cat thing seriously.

A giant version of Kitty Galore would have been amazing.
But in that last third of the movie it just became a different movie than the silly movie we'd had up to that point, what with Anubis stomping in like some slasher movie villain ready to do his best Jason Goes to Hell impression as he dines on hearts. It was just a lot less fun and really lost me. I did still love the cats attacking him, like they're some real threat to a fucking jackal god, but it was just too little too late by that point. And getting back to the disease/infection thing...why? Why even have that in the movie if you aren't going to go anywhere with it? No one dies of it except for the one guy when the tunnel is opened and all it really exists for is to some minor red herring as to what's going to kill some of them, as not all of them seem to be showing the signs of infection that both Miles and Fitzie get. This movie's biggest problem is just not deciding what it should be. It gives us a silly killer cat movie, but derails that with the other stuff. I would've really rather they had just stuck to the silly killer cat movie and had a bunch of dogs show up to save the day, as it would have been appropriately silly. Besides, the feral dog barking at the pyramid earlier totally foreshadowed dogs fighting cats! Fuck you for not giving me that, movie! So, until we get to see a sequel about how Shadid has a twin brother who runs a K9 unit and wants to go kill some killer cats to avenge his brother, I'll be here shaking my head in disappointment. Later days, bleeders.

Unless you have catnip, then they'll probably love you.

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