NEW YORK (CNS) — Cross "The Mummy" with "Alien" and you get "The Pyramid" (Fox), a schlock horror film about scary things that go bump in the Egyptian night.
Gregory Levasseur, in his directorial debut, adopts a documentary style (think herky-jerky camera movements) to tell the "true" story of an American archeological expedition in Cairo in 2013, set against the upheavals of the Arab Spring movement.
A father-daughter team of scientists, Holden (Denis O’Hare) and Nora (Ashley Hinshaw), have discovered a pyramid buried deep under the desert. This is no ordinary structure, of course — it has three sides instead of the usual four, indicating that it’s something special.
The duo oversees its excavation, looking for an entryway. Chronicling the process is Sunni (Christa Nicola), a plucky American journalist, and her wisecracking British cameraman, Fitzie (James Buckley).
Rounding out the team is Arab native Zahir (Amir K). He’s in charge of "Shorty," a quirky robotic rover and very distant cousin of Pixar’s Wall-E.
Before long, an entrance is found. Prying open the door releases a shock wave of toxic gas. Of course, that ought to be enough to deter all concerned from proceeding any further. But this is a chiller, so common sense is ignored.
Accordingly, Shorty is sent merrily rolling down the shaft, in search of clues. Ancient hieroglyphics on the walls translate as "danger" and "death," but these admonitions, too, are disregarded.
When contact with Shorty is lost, Holden, Nora and Zahir jump at the chance to rescue the automaton, giddily followed by Sunni and Fitzie.
You can’t say they weren’t warned. Before long it’s apparent that something sinister is lurking underground. Labyrinthine tunnels and tight crawl spaces heighten claustrophobia and a sense of dread. To reveal more would, alas, spoil the (rather derivative) plot.
At one point, Fitzie declares, "This doesn’t look like the Egyptian stuff you see in the British Museum, eh, guys?"
That could qualify as the understatement of the year.
The film contains bloody violence and gory images, brief partial female nudity and some profane and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
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McAleer is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.
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