Since the raiding of Tutankhamun’s tomb in the early 1920s, pyramids have been a source of constant fascination for archaeologists, novelists and, of course, filmmakers. From The Mummy [Stephen Sommers, USA, 1999] to Alien Vs. Predator [Paul W. S. Anderson, USA, 2004], pyramids play a major role in confounding and horrifying both the characters and the audiences. Pyramis follows this tradition in a four-minute short that tells the tale of a scientist hungry for fame.
What first stands out about this film is that it looks, for want of a better word, just plain cool. Like your favourite childhood computer game come to life, you can follow the animated protagonist as he discovers a mysterious pyramid far below the earth’s surface - it’s Indiana Jones for the Half-Life generation. Taylor’s portrayal of the aliens (spoiler alert) that dwell within is also commendable, as he avoids the overused reptilian tropes of bulbous heads and glowing eyes. Instead, the extra terrestrials are almost unrecognisable to human eyes, taking the form of an amorphous gas rather than a recognisable creature.
These visual effects work well, but for the film to be truly successful it also needs a convincing plot and character, which Pyramis unfortunately doesn’t have. Firstly, without even knowing his name or who he is, it is extremely difficult to sympathise with the character and this makes it hard to care about what happens next. Secondly, huge revelations come far too quickly. The pyramid is found almost immediately and, although a scientific montage and the growth of facial hair do indicate a long time passing, the viewer is left in suspense for too short a time before the character makes his essential discovery. Finally, the most interesting part of the film is left out when the scientist is yanked aboard and the short cuts to credits. Although this can occasionally be effective - the audience is left completely hooked and full of questions - it doesn’t quite work here as the build up to the critical moment isn’t exactly breath-bating.
Even though these issues prevent the film from reaching its full potential, Taylor clearly has potential as an animator. Perhaps with a more gripping plot and nuanced characters, his next creation could throw pyramids into a more interesting and novel light.
'Pyramis' was a film in consideration for Short Focus Film Festival 2020.