Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Pernicious Review

I can't remember exactly how I became familiar with James Cullen Bressack, but I do remember that the first of his work I was able to see was Hate Crime when it hit vod. I rented it, then bought it and everything else he'd done and has done since. I've said since then that his was a name that horror fans needed to be aware of. Pernicious is his latest, and most ambitious feature, and last Friday it made it's way to vod and I immediately checked it out. This feels like the first time Bressack has worked with any kind of a substantial budget, and not only does he not disappoint, he managed to exceed all of my expectations.

Pernicious follows three college aged American girls on a summer trip to Thailand. When they arrive, they discover an ancient golden statue of a small girl in the house they're staying in. Their trip takes a turn for the worse after they uncover the statue, unleashing an evil spirit housed within. As the body count rises, the mystery deepens as they attempt to figure out why the spirit is bound to the statue and the reasons behind it's bloody desire for revenge.

This is one of those films that at times reminds you of others, and you think you know what's going to happen next based off of those, but then it flips the script on you. It's at times part Hostel, at times part The Grudge, and there's even a hint of Pumpkinhead in there, yet it still manages to be it's own thing. It's hard to explain. As the plot played out, every single time I thought I knew what was going on, it threw a twist at me. It never went off the rails, but it kept me guessing. Whenever a movie can do that, I definitely consider it a win. The cast mostly performs well, with Ciara Hanna and Jackie Moore being the standouts, as Alex and Rachel respectively. The third of the girls, Julia, was played by Emily O'Brien and she had a few brief moments where reactions were a bit extreme to situations, but she was far from the worst I've ever seen.

Effects wise there was your standard practical/cg mixture. Thankfully most of the blood and gore was of the practical type, while the cg was left mostly to animating the statue. The practical stuff was great, the cg was probably serviceable at best. The budget for this movie went into so many things, practical effects, camera shots, location, etc., that I am more than forgiving if what little cgi is in it isn't quite cutting edge. It looks fine, trust me.

Coming from a guy who shot and edited an entire movie using an iPhone once, Pernicious is a great example of what James Cullen Bressack can do when he's given a real budget and let loose. Gore hounds will appreciate the head bashing and throat slitting, fans of supernatural fare will enjoy the creepy atmosphere and overall tone of impending dread. It's brutally violent at times, moves at a good pace, and tells a story that's entertaining and intriguing from start to finish. Highly recommended for fans of ghost/revenge movies, but Pernicious has a little something for everybody.

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