A team of archaeologists along with select media dared to enter one of the most mysterious creations of man in “The Pyramid” where they battle horrific circumstances and creatures trying to come out alive. Directed by renowned Gregory Levasseur who came to fame with his horror-slasher hit films such as “High Tension,” “The Hills Have Eyes,” “Mirrors” and “Piranha 3D” – most of which he co-wrote with long-time collaborator Alexandre Aja who serves as producer of the film, “The Pyramid” poises to be another of the duo’s jolting thriller – guaranteed to leave the viewers shuddered after viewing.
To heighten the scares and intensity, the filmmakers worked to ensure the authenticity of the story’s backdrop amidst Egypt’s recent political turmoil that erupted when Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi became President of Egypt. “Setting against these recent protests immediately places the movie in the real world,” says producer and editor Scott C. Silver.
Levasseur decided early on he would not be limited by genre conventions. “I liked the idea that we start with a documentary point of view and then slide into a more traditional narrative. We keep the documentary and handheld style and spirit, but we’re not trapped with one camera.”
The documentary-style framing device does add a certain immediacy that Levasseur and director of photography Laurent Tangy were keen to exploit. “I’m not at all precious about breaking the rules in service to the story,” says Tangy.
The production used real news footage of the event to inspire their restaging of the anti-Morsi protests that open the film. “It provides such a good contrast to archeology,” notes O’Hare. “In archeology you’re watching all these great civilizations rise and fall and it makes the geopolitical shifts of the way we live today seem to pale in comparison.”
Nevertheless, it was important for the production that the featured news events be presented delicately and tastefully. “We had discussions about how to handle it,” Mattar explains. “We want audiences to be able to immerse themselves in a cool world and didn’t want to turn it into a blindly political story. We had many discussions about the most conservative and yet believable scenario; one that tackles the subject without politicizing it.”
The shoot’s toughest days involved the actors’ passage through an enormous sand trap. They were literally covered in sand for two days. “The sand tunnel scene and the one after it are the biggest for me,” says Levasseur. “It involves all the effects that go into an adventure movie: prosthetics, stunts, special effects and visual effects. It’s very intense.”
“The Pyramid” opens December 10 in cinemas nationwide from 20th Century Fox to be distributed by Warner Bros.