Tuesday, October 22, 2019

cat baloo.

The Pyramid (2014).
Dir: Gregory Levasseur.
Cast:  Ashley Hinshaw, Denis O'Hare, James Buckley, Christa Nicola, Amir K, Faycal Attougui and Philip Shelley.

“This doesn’t look like the Egyptian stuff you find at the British Museum!”

It's August 2013 and those pesky, democracy craving Egyptians are rowdily  rioting in Cairo’s Ramses Square, an historic turning point in Middle Eastern politics.

But fuck that cos there are far more important things afoot out in the desert where the American father/daughter archaeology team of Miles (American Horror Story stalwart O’Hare channelling Harry Dean Stanton) and Nora Holden (council estate Blake Lively, Hinshaw) have just uncovered a new (in the sense of it being hidden, it's not like they hired Bob The Builder to construct it for them - tho' that would make a great movie) pyramid.

Buried beneath the harsh desert sands for over five thousand years (possibly), the team are most excited by the fact that it only has three sides.

Which probably cheered the CGI team up no end too.

Unfortunately there's a chance that they'll never get to explore it seeing as the US government, always wary of being involved in other countries political problems when it doesn't concern them, want the pair out of Egypt as soon as possible save Ben Affleck has to be sent in to rescue them.

Plus it's full of a scary green gas that makes people vomit milk.

Which is nice.

"...And here we see one of Madonna's original bra's!"

Luckily the team are given 24 hours to complete their investigations by their military liaison, the permanently angry Corporal Terry Shadid (Attougui) so Nora persuades her 'love' interest and the teams techie Zahir (the Kafka-esquely named K) to send his borrowed NASA robot into the pyramid for a wee nosey around.

Which would be a great excuse for some spooky found footage style thrills if it weren't so badly handled.

At this point I was a wee bit worried that the entire film would be made up of footage from the robot intercut with reaction shots of the human cast but alas this fairly unique (if horrifying) prospect is soon dashed when the machine is destroyed by some slight - and unconvincing - CGI, leaving Nora, Miles and Zahir, alongside the terrifyingly eyebrowed news-anchor Sunni (Home And Away's Nicola) and her cheeky-chappie British cameraman Fitzie (The Inbetweeners Buckley) no choice that to pack up shop and head back to the relative safety of America.

The end.

Only joking of course, obviously they throw caution (and logic) to the wind and head forth into the pyramid.

Not even industrial gas masks can hide the stench of this script.

Aware of the films meagre running time the group quickly become lost, then after a section of dodgy crazy paving collapses beneath them, trapped in a big hole.

Luckily only token foreign bloke Zahir is injured, pinned to the ground by a huge lump of polystyrene.

Luckier still is the fact that Sunni is not just a top TV type but is, in fact also a trained climber which means that she can climb out of the hole and go for help.

Which as far as logical plans go is pretty good for this movie and it just might of worked had it not been for the pesky cat (a highly trained Egyptian attack cat at that) that destroyed the robot lying in wait to pop out and surprise her, leading to this priceless dialogue exchange:

“There's something up there and it scratched my face! ”

Admit it, it doesn't really chill you to the bone or fill you with dread does it?

After, oooh, minutes of debating they decide to leave Zahir behind and take their chances in a nearby tunnel, only to turn back when they hear the poor sod screaming for help.

They probably shouldn't have bothered seeing as all that's left of the bloke is a jammy smear and a toenail.

There's no time to mourn their fallen comrade tho' as the angry tones of Corporal Shadid are soon echoing around the room which means there must be a way out.

Either that or the director fancies killing off another foreigner before starting on the English speaking cast.

Milk in mah mooth!

Hurrying thru' a narrow tunnel with an army of killer cats in hot pursuit our merry band soon find Shadid, who drags them to the relative safety of yet another chamber before being ignominiously dragged into the tunnel by a thing (or things) unseen/not yet rendered by the films animators.

From this point on it's sand traps and spiked pits ahoy as no Mummy movie cliche is left unburied as our surviving heroes race towards a thrilling (well I say thrilling) climax as the true nature of the pyramid is unveiled.

In part thanks to the mummified remains of a notebook clutching Freemason they just happen to find in a burial chamber.

Obviously he'd been caught painting the sand stone red, white and blue or trying to organise a march thru' the tunnels when he was found by the non- Protestant occupant.

And you'd never guess who that is.

Why it's none other than Jeff Anubis, famed protector of the dead and god of funerals.

It's like Through The Keyhole on smack.

Anyway back to the plot (what there is of it) where it seems that, oh, years ago (2000–1700 BC at least) Jeff's dad/creator Osiris, on account of not suffering from dog breath beat poor Anubis in the annual most important god of the dead competition and leaving him in second place.

Although this didn't come without it's perks and a fancy job title ("Guardian of the Scales"), Anubis soon got bored tearing out folks hearts to see if they could get into heaven and decided to do other stuff instead.

The film/history books don't mention what so I like to imagine him surfing or opening a chip shop, go on, see what funny situations you can imagine Anubis in.

There's a prize for the best.

Anyway the Egyptians, being a leather obsessed and frankly untrustworthy lot decided to build a huge pyramid to imprison him in and leave an army of cats inside to stop him escaping.

As you do.

Now if only they'd thought to write this above the entrance none of this would have happened.

The ancient god Anubis, sniffing someones arse yesterday.

Plus Anubis himself wouldn't have to suffer the indignity of being portrayed as a badly rendered CGI stick man with a dodgy Chuckle Hounds style dogs head clad only in a hula skirt.

Don't you know about Anubis? He'll take you up a hill, beat you up and then he'll bum you! And if he doesn't kill you, you kill yourself because of the shame of you getting a boner whilst you was being bummed!

So will the rapidly dwindling team manage to escape from the clutch of Anubis?

Can you actually clutch if you have paws?

Does Anubis even have paws?

If the cats are frightened of fire, why not just remove their jackets and make torches?

Why trap Anubis in a Labyrinth when they could have just sealed him in and filled the whole structure with sand and suffocate him?

And most importantly why does every film of this ilk have a shitey mock-rock song over the end credits? 

Pity poor Gregory Levasseur, the writer behind the genuinely brilliant Maniac remake (as well as the not too shoddy Hills Have Eyes reboot and the sexy shocker High Tension), with a pedigree like that behind him you'd reckon he'd have been a wee bit more choosey when it came to picking the script  for his directorial debut.

Writers Nick Simon and Daniel Meersand ransack the tombs of both the Egyptian undead and found footage genres with little knowledge or understanding of either in the vain hope that some of it will stick out in a memorable way.

Unfortunately saddled with dialogue along the lines of “We’re just like food in a bowl right now,” the only place it sticks is in the viewers throat, or in the case of the almost schizophrenic 'is it or isn't it?' found footage style, the audience is left to play the who's filming who? game.

Which if I'm honest does add an element of enjoyment from the film that's sadly missing from the (frankly ludicrously nonsensical) plot.

Charlie says practical effects are best.
What scares the movie does attempt are more like old friends than genuine frights being taken as they are from (better) genre movies going back to the 50's and earlier and the sub par CG makes the already vaguely amusing idea of an army of highly trained, god fighting killer cats unintentionally hilarious.

Tho' not as side-splitting as the reveal of Anubis in all his floating about not quite in shot, plasticine faced glory.

Honestly I've seen better CG in an average episode of Numberjacks.

Why the just didn't buy a kiddies dog mask instead I’ll never know but saying that, there is an oh so clever train of thought that says that monster looking this shite are, in fact really clever as we can't and shouldn't judge people and things on their outward appearance.

I mean who's to say that the Egyptian god of the dead wouldn't choose to appear to be made out of kiddies modelling clay and hastily painted in shit?

A better man than me that's for sure.

Nothing special but a fairly harmless way to pass 90 minutes.

Especially this far into 31 days of horror.

But saying that so is shagging your gran and I know which I'd find more satisfying.

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