“Full of gore and horror clichés.”
We thought that by now Americans, particularly those pretty ladies, have learned the valuable lesson that traveling through exotic countries could be their most terrifying experience, that is, if they survive the bloody adventure ahead. We thought wrong and in James Cullen Bressack’s horror flick Pernicious, another bunch of girls made the same mistake again.
It is summer and three American gal pals travel to Thailand. The trio is composed of level-headed brunette named Julia (Emily O’Brien) who has a steady boyfriend back in the States, and blonde siblings Alex (Ciara Hanna) and Rachel (Jackie Moore) who loves to party and some after-party sex. They are to teach English to some kids, despite not even knowing how to speak the local language. Like usual horror movies, they stay in a large empty hut where they discover a life-size golden statue of a little girl.
Time to shop and the three friends find themselves touring around the district. In the market, they confront three Englishmen who are stalking them. In the nightclub that night, they meet the same men but the booze gets the better of them and they end up partying with them. As expected, they bring the boys home with them to their hut. In a moment of stomach-churning gore, they torture the three men.
The following day, the girls wake up with a massive hangover and headache, having the same bad nightmare that they murdered the men. With the golden statue and some things gone, they set out to search the guys to take back their belongings. In the market, they ask about the statue and a little girl leads them to a creepy forest. An old witch tells them about an ancient Thai legend and its possible dangers.
True enough, the statue represents a little girl who was murdered in the past. With the girl’s spirit returning for revenge, the trio must face darker truths and fight the evil that surrounds the large hut.
In his search for new monsters, Director Bressack tapped the Thai culture and found an ancient belief which became the foundation for Pernicious. However, an angry spirit seeking for revenge is common in many legends and the movie ends up like nothing new. The details of this Thai legend get lost in the gore and shrieks, and new ideas which may have distinguished the film never quite come together. Thus, no real tension has been established and the film lounged in lousiness. The muddled execution is further worsened by the poor delivery of the actors. It seems their acting skill rests mainly on shrieking.
Yet, the film looks expensive, not because of the gold-covered demon but due to its breathtaking shots of Thailand and its decent pieces. The country looks pretty and the stunning scenery is a silent omen of something pernicious. Indeed, the film unabashedly showed pounds of skin and ounces of blood, enough to satisfy the gore lovers out there. The torture of the three men is horrifying, particularly when one of the men’s eyes were gouged out and forced fed into his mouth.
Pernicious succeeds only in delivering Thailand’s countryside beauty and a satisfying gore. There is nothing beyond that. It is predictable, full of visual clichés, intriguing yet lousy, and excruciatingly painful to watch.