Directed by: James Cullen Bressack
I was thinking of the best way to describe Pernicious. It’s not really a slasher flick, and though it contains some gore, and indeed some sadism, it’s not really nu-torture porn, a child of Saw and Hostel. What the story reminded me of was Nickelodeon’s ‘Are You Afraid of the Dark?’; a programme I used to watch avidly as a kid. So is director James Cullen Bressack dabbling in Nickelodeon Extremism?
Like most modern Horror’s, pick any horror film out of a hat, you will find a cast of attractive people in their early twenties lined up as lambs for slaughter. ‘Pernicious’ is no different; you have three attractive young women who have gone out to Thailand for a month to teach Children. The friends Julia (Emily O’Brien), Alex (Ciara Hanna) and Rachel (Jackie Moore) stay in a rather nice old riverside house. Inside the house they uncover a golden statue of a little girl, which gives off some right creepy vibes.
What follows is unpredictable in the sense that the film is a real slow burner. The women head off into town and bump into a trio of lecherous leary Brits, lads on tour if you will. Rachel, the stereotypical dumb blonde flirts up a storm and the group end up back at the girl’s house; it is here where one of the Brits pulls out a bottle of laced liquor and something rather untoward happens.
Just when you think the blokes take advantage of the women things take a blood curdling about turn. The women end up butchering the blokes. When the ladies wake the next morning they think it’s all been a horrible dream, as the lads have vanished and the golden statue has disappeared. For some reason the girls care what has happened to the statue and try to track it down.
The rest of the movie is a treasure hunt, as the women discover the story behind the statue from a gravelly ill old man, and end up on a bit of a wild goose chase cum evil spirit story. It’s this curious second half of the movie, which is rather non-eventful but at the same time really engrossing. I can’t really put my finger on why this is, because aside from Jackie Moore, who adds quite a bit of humour as the ditzy Rachel, there is no real stand out scream queens or OTT acting performances. It just seems that the story works because it is frugal throat slashing throwaway film candy.