August 3, 2015 Pernicious (Movie Review)
Horror fans have always had a soft spot for vampires and werewolves from as far back as such supernatural stories have been written. They received an explosion in popularity largely to due to the Twilight series, and consequently writers seem to have stopped exploring other creatures. Fortunately, the Thai folkloric Horror film Pernicious seems set to change all that. Premiering in North America at the Nevermore Film Festival February 20th, receiving a limited release on 19th, and a DVD release August 25th, Pernicious explores a little known concept and creates a new and exciting creature feature. Written and directed by James Cullen Bressack (Theatre of the Deranged 2012, SyFy’s Blood Lake: Attack of the Lampreys 2014), who has recently been touted as Horror’s new hope, Pernicious is set in Thailand, utilizing and exploring an ancient Thai legend. The outstanding special effects were a combined effort between Anthony Julio (The Devil’s Rejects 2005, Iron Man 2008) and Jerami Cruise (August Underground’s Mordum 2003, Sharknado 3: Oh, Hell No! 2015). By filming on location in Bangkok, using local acting talent and maximizing Seo Mutarevic’s (Wild Side 1995, Wild Things 2 2004) beautiful cinematography, Bressack produces a superb platform for this observed tale.
The film begins with Julia (Emily O’Brien: The Young and the Restless TV series, Project Bigfoot 2014) and sisters Alex (Ciara Hanna: Power Rangers Megaforce TV series, Blood Lake: Attack of the Killer Lampreys 2014) and Rachel (Jackie Moore: Atlantic Rim 2013, The Opposite Sex 2014) heading to tropical Thailand to teach children for the summer. They arrive safely, although almost straight away it seems as though someone is watching them. After settling into the massive house the girls will be living in during their stay, they find a child sized gold statue in the attic. Rachel knows some Thai history but has no idea what it is. With an entire week until work starts, there is no time pressure, so the girls decide to go to a bar for the evening.
It is there that they meet three British guys, Vlad (Sohanne Bengana in his debut role), Colin (Russell Geoffrey Banks: Cam2Cam 2014, Ghost House 2015) and Byron (Byron Gibson: Billa 2 2012, Only God Forgives 2013). The group take the party back to the house and continue to have a good time until Julia begins to feel uncomfortable and wants the men to leave. Instead, the girls all take a drink from Colin’s flask and pass out, only to have terrible, violent nightmares. When they wake up, the men are gone, leaving no trace of them or the cause of the girls’ nightmares. However, the statue and all their gold jewelry has been taken, including the bracelet that Alex’s mother gave her before she died. Initially, it appears that Colin, Vlad and Byron have ripped them off, but after digging a little deeper, the girls discover a much more insidious and terrifying reality. Julia, Rachel and Alex find themselves not on the working holiday that they had planned, but instead running for their lives. Will any of them make it back home? Who or what could possibly destroy these three beautiful, intelligent young women in a manner of days?
Steeped in ancient history and packed to the hilt with action, humor and plenty of gore, Pernicious is not at all what it appears to be on the surface – just a run of the mill Horror story involving three young, hot women in a foreign place. To be fooled by this exterior would be a grave injustice to such an extraordinary film. After the first quarter of its running time, the movie takes a dramatic plunge from lightly entertaining to amazing thrill ride. A great deal of research and passion went into creating Pernicious and this devoted fervor shows in every scene. Bressack has not only expounded on a new creature for Horror fans to fear, but has blown other recent movie monsters out of the water. With similarities to movies such as 2004’s The Grudge, 1973’s The Exorcist, and the Hostel series, Pernicious packs some serious punch. This is not a film for the faint-hearted, although gorehounds will love the splatter that this movie brings to the table.
Pernicious is well-acted with seamless special effects, excellent character development and a surprise twist of an ending. One should expect the unexpected in this modern day interpretation of an old legend. The tension and action are constant throughout, taking the viewer on a roller coaster of emotions, never knowing what will come next. The open ending leaves them begging for a sequel and guarantees repeated viewings. Intense and gripping, this film is a must see for all Horror fans and should not be dismissed as just another stereotypical Horror movie. Bressack is definitely one to watch out for in the future. CrypticRock scores Pernicious 5 out of 5.