An archaeological team attempts to unlock the secrets of a lost pyramid only to find themselves hunted by an insidious creature.
Billy: Ancient Egypt has some amazing, horrifying mythology. It’s the reason why movies like The Pyramid want to exist. It’s why 1932’s The Mummy continues to thrive as a staple of early horror and why we all fondly remember the days when Brendan Fraser was hot. It isn’t just the mummies themselves, but the unknown atmosphere that surrounds these films that makes horror thrive. There was a sense of otherworldly dread that came from archaeologists exploring these tombs in the early days of cinema, the same way we might feel about the crew of the Nostromo exploring the crashed ship in Alien. We weren’t as worldly then. Anything could happen.
At first, The Pyramid seems cool because it gets that energy back right away, and it sets itself up pretty well for it by trapping the characters inside of the structure and forcing them to venture further into its mysteries in order to escape. Unfortunately, it becomes pretty apparent that the movie isn’t interested in that sort of world building or development, and what could have been a cool little investigation into the horrors of ancient Gods and belief becomes a forgettable slog of found footage and lazy writing.
Amelia: This movie could have been truly terrifying. Tight, dark enclosed spaces, a maze of deadly traps and pitfalls, weird architecture and ominous curses and warnings throughout – the horror is ripe for the picking! And yet despite having almost all the right ingredients to create a tense and atmospheric bottle horror of people trapped in a pyramid, The Pyramid fails completely for me. Why? Two words people: historical inaccuracy.
Yes, I know it’s a horror and not a historical drama, but I don’t think horror should get off easy for the laziness of its writers when it comes to little details just because it’s horror. If it’s wrong to put Anne Boleyn on a skateboard in a period drama, it’s just as wrong to half-ass your way through ancient Egyptian religion! My suspension of disbelief can only stretch so far before tweaking things to fit the narrative just becomes a lazy white dude not wanting to open another tab to Google the origin of Sphynx cats.
FYI, The Pyramid heavily features Sphynx cats, but guess what? Sphynx cats weren’t bred until the 1960s. They didn’t exist in ancient Egypt. Ancient Egyptians would have had African wildcats. Go on, fact check that on Google if you think it’s not true, you’ll be doing a more thorough amount of research than the two writers of this travesty.
Billy: I was honestly pretty confused about the use of cats throughout. Pick a side, felines! At first it’s dogs outside the pyramid, and then we get inside and it’s cats we… think… are dogs… or at least the characters do. And they’re aggressive as fuck until… they’re not. And the end… the end with Anubis? It’s just absolutely a step too far away from the unknown elements of mythology that should have made this movie great. Instead, it’s like that guy moving his hands around saying “aliens” to every little thing. Like if Jaws ended with the shark pulling out a gun.
But I mean, I don’t actually know the historical stuff in the same way that Amelia does and I already said I was interested in the unknown exploration, so should I be upset that it took a different route than I expected? Well… yeah, because if you’re going to do a character driven piece like this, you need to actually develop characters. That’s something The Pyramid pretty much forgot to do at all.
Amelia: The characters of this movie make me want to swan dive into a volcano because they are just fucking awful. Some of the worst characters I’ve ever seen. Just a collection of bastards that, by the end of the movie, you’ll want to bite on the face like you’re Hannibal goddamn Lecter!
Why were they written this way? Why were they portrayed this way by the actors? Just… why??? The main characters, a father-daughter team, are the worst people on Earth. The father refuses to use technology to advance his field of study because he’s a white man and that’s just how they roll. The daughter meanwhile does want to use this new technology and not have her father control her whole life, but she is just the worst actress they could have gotten.
This fucking father! Remembering him here and now is making me angry all over again! This prat sends everyone into places before he follows because he’s a chicken shit, he refuses to take responsibility for his shitty actions – dudebro can’t even bring himself to protect his own daughter! He is literally only out for himself, his legacy, and protecting old world archeology. He is the people version of a shitty, unwiped asshole. Honestly this father reminds me so much of the archaeologists that discovered a gay Pharaoh and they couldn’t bear the thought of a Pharaoh boning another man so they just said it was just his brother he was buried with even though the tomb was covered in pretty much wall after wall declaring his love to this man. No, you’re right. That’s his brother, not a gay lover. Fuckin’ white men, I tell ya.
Billy: Admittedly, this movie kind of just washed over me. It’s forgettable, and that’s the major problem. I can tell you so much about what happened in so many other Egyptian-based horror movies, but this? They were in a hole. They fell down the hole. Things happened and annoying people died.
Amelia: The thing I hate most about The Pyramid is that they managed to fuck up the most Egyptian thing: cats. The most Egyptian thing in the world besides sand and the Nile and The Pyramid fucks it up. It’s wrong to only say cats are the guardians of the underworld. They were more than that. And they sure as hell weren’t evil. They worshipped a cat headed god! You gonna give an evil cat god the role of protector of hearth and home and women’s secrets? I don’t think so. Even if in the last few moments of this movie it’s shown that the cats haven’t been on the side of Anubis they’re still not being shown how the Egyptians would have presented them. If these so-called Egyptologists were worth fucking anything, they should have known right off the bat that cats are Bastet’s servants and protectors from evil spirits. This movie should have had the father and daughter being like ‘we got cats here, we follow those fucking cats’!
Unrelated to this movie, but an interesting fact nonetheless, in 525 BCE, Cambyses II of Persia defeated the forces of Pharaoh Psametic III because he got his soldiers to paint cats on their shields and hold cats in their arms. The Egyptians were reluctant to defend themselves for fear of harming the cats and incurring the death penalty for killing one. According to the 2nd century CE historian Polyaenus, after the surrender, Cambyses II hurled cats into the faces of the defeated Egyptians.
They loved cats, guys. Everyone knows that. Except apparently white dudes that write screenplays.
Billy: Three Sphynx cats out of ten
This is sort of the epitome of a neutral movie for me. It doesn’t go anywhere special and everything interesting it might have done I’d rather have done more thoroughly in another film. Take your bets on who dies and when. It’s that sort of show. Drink every time you see a cat. And do a WTF when, in the end, Anubis the alien-turned-god powers up his pure-soul-powered-rocket-ship and flies off into the distance like Fox McCloud.
Amelia: One Sphynx cat out of ten
Fuck The Pyramid. I hate this movie. It’s the worst kind of lazy, incompetent, trash. It fetishizies the material with half-remembered facts of a whole culture and throws in some jump scares with the hopes of keeping you entertained for an hour and a half. And guess what? Even if you can look past what’s wrong with the historical bits, it still doesn’t entertain because of how bland and uninspired it is. Oh look, found footage, I’ve never seen that before. The only reason this is getting a single Sphynx cat out of ten is because last year, The Forest got zero out of ten from me and there’s never going to be a culturally tone-deaf horror movie that I hate more than that garbage. So The Pyramid earns itself a one out of ten. But c’mon. We all know that’s just me being nice.