Pernicious (2015)

James Cullen Bressack's PerniciousStarring Ciara Hanna, Emily O’Brien, Jackie Moore, Jared Cohn, Wallop Terathong, Prinya Ruenprapan, Sara Malakul Lane

Directed by James Cullen Bressack

Pernicious opens with some type of bloody Asian ritual where we see a bleeding man get his throat cut while a woman draws on a hanging sheet with his blood (wow, said “blood” a lot in that sentence, but that should prepare you for what the film has in store). The killer then turns his attention to the child in the seat next to the first victim. Cut to black, and the sound of a slash and a scream…

Then we see three hot American beauties, bubbly and playful, arriving in Thailand. Things cannot bode well for these ladies.

Played by Ciara Hanna, Emily O’Brien, and Jackie Moore, each of the girls is stunningly beautiful and helps director (and co-writer with Taryn Hillin) James Cullen Bressack draw the audience in to the story. Bressack is a director that delivers on all the visuals – the girls, their creepy old house, the atmospheric setting of Thailand; but there’s one additional thing Bressack brings in Pernicious, and that’s plenty of killer special effects. In fact, the action, violence, and gore found in this movie are some of the most intriguing things about it… although watching the insanely gorgeous Jackie Moore run around onscreen for an hour and a half is also well worth the price of admission!

Back to the F/X… the work was done by hotshot artists Anthony Julio and Jeramie Cruise. Julio has worked on Star Trek, The Avengers, and The Maze Runner while Cruise helped create nightmares like August Underground’s Mordum, Murder-Set-Pieces, and Bereavement. These guys really know their stuff, and they deliver in a big way, pulling all types of tricks out of their bags, and it’s a bloody bag from which they pull.

So, back to the story… our girls, in Thailand for charity work, run afoul of a mysterious golden statue that we come to find out is not only incredibly valuable, as it’s made of gold, but also contains a shocking secret. Don’t worry; Bressack lovingly unveils the secret in his own time. He delivers a quality story and does a pretty decent job of it. There are a few stiff acting moments and a bit of overacting in the finale, but nothing horrible. Also, we noticed a couple of cliché images. (Please, filmmakers, if a character is looking in a bathroom medicine cabinet, don’t have the malevolent force appear mysteriously behind said character in the mirror when the cabinet is shut. We’ve seen it a million times! Yeah, you’ll probably still get us to jump, but it’s a cheapo.)

Pernicious does a good job of bringing the audience along at a nice pace as the mystery unfolds. And have no doubt about it; Pernicious definitely has strong mystery elements amongst all the gore and horror. Bressack actually leaves some clues for the audience during the movie that, upon learning the secrets of the story, will undoubted cause some viewers to slap themselves in the forehead, “Why didn’t I have a V-8” style, and question themselves on just how they missed that clue. It would have been nice if the reveal could have been more implied and less completely spelled out, but hey, when you’ve got a movie full of hotties and crazy, bloody special F/X work, that covers a lot of shortcomings.

Pernicious is a carnival for the eyes; with the aforementioned beautiful women, insane special effects, and haunting Thai setting, you’ll find yourself swept away in the story and in love with your favorite female lead. Sure, there are a few warts , but what it all boils down to is: How much were you entertained? Pernicious is very entertaining. It’s a wildly exciting watch from beginning to bloody end, and you’ll have a lot of fun with the characters and story. Pernicious is certainly worth a look.


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Scott Hallam

We all go a little mad sometimes...haven't you?

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