Netflix Halloween 2015 : “Pernicious”

Posted: October 3, 2015 in movies
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,


Indie director James Cullen Bressack is quickly making a name for himself as a guy who’s not afraid to “go there.” The last one of his films that we looked at around these parts, 2011’s Hate Crime, was a visceral tour-de-force of sleazy unpleasantness, and with his latest, 2014’s Pernicious, he adds a supernatural flair to the proceedings that in no way diminishes their right-the-fuck-up-in-your-face power. In short, it appears as though he’s learned how to translate “his type” of gut-punch cinema into a package that might have a bit more mass appeal, but without watering things down in any way.

That’s a pretty solid accomplishment right there, when you think about it, but don’t go getting worried that Bressack is on the verge of “selling out.” Truth be told, his obsessions are still too gleefully prurient to ever make it into the “mainstream,” and while that may be “good news” of a sort to us gore-hounds and filth-wallowers, for those of you out there with either weaker stomachs, stronger consciences, or both, Perncious is still going to be pretty far out of your wheelhouse and you’d probably do better to stay well away.

For sick bastards like yours truly, though, what can I say? There’s really a lot to like here.

pernicious (1)

Our story concerns three vivacious, young American ladies (Ciara Hanna as Alex, Emily O’Brien as Julia, and Jackie Moore as Rachel) who are newly arrived in Thailand (ostensibly to teach English, but at least a couple of them seem more concerned with taking in the local, and notoriously decadent, nightlife) and find themselves rooming together in a house where things start going bump in the night pretty much right off the bat.

Don’t expect much by way of mystery or intrigue here, as the script (co-written by Bressack and Taryn Hillin) lays its cards on the table in fairly short order, but do expect plenty of shit guaranteed to make you squirm as it’s revealed that the entity haunting the joynt is the spirit of a deceased eight-year-old girl named Vanida (Irada Hoyos) who was brutally murdered by her own parents in a ritual sacrifice of some sort and now wants her pound of flesh (and blood, and guts) from basically anyone and everyone she can get it from. Her revenge may be scattershot, but what she lacks in planning she more than makes up for in determination, and she’s impressively sadistic for a kid — as well as for a ghost.


That’s probably about as much as I should give away about the particulars here, since the whole thing with Pernicious boils down to “you’ve gotta see it to believe it” — and even then, you’ll more than likely have a hard time believing what you’re seeing. I pride myself on having a fairly cast-iron sense of resolve, but damn, this one, like Hate Crime, made me fidget more than a few times.

So, hey, you’ve been warned. One thing I think everyone who watches this could agree on, though, is that the performances , while obviously of an amateur variety, are fairly solid all things considered, and that Bressack has mastered the art of putting the “horror” back into “horrifying.” There’s something almost Deodato- or Fulci-esque about his complete lack of empathy for his characters and his single-minded determination to make his audience feel downright physically sick and emotionally unclean at all costs, and God forgive me, I can’t help but admire him for that. I’ll get around to feeling guilty for doing so later, I suppose (ha! As if).


By now you should have a fairly solid idea of whether or not this sounds like the kind of movie for you. If so, then check it out on Netflix, where it was added fairly recently, and enjoy — if you can — the indelible stain it will leave on your brain for many days to come.


  1. trashfilmguru (Ryan C.) says:

    Reblogged this on Through the Shattered Lens.

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