Ginger Nuts of Horror
The movie tells of three young women Julia (Emily O’Brien: Young and the Restless), Alex (Ciara Hanna: Power Rangers) and Rachel (Jackie Moore: 100 Ghost Street) on a working holiday in Thailand who inadvertently unleash the spirit of a murdered child. Simple premise, but this has a somewhat unique back story in that the murdered child is sacrificed in a ritual in which she is coated with gold. The resulting statue is upstairs in the house that the three young women are staying in and it is prevented from delivering retribution by an amulet inside a little shrine outside the house.
Initially everything is fine, with the women cattily discussing their temporary employment and the general desire to have fun. Throw in some nice tourist location shoots complete with elephants and shopping bazaars and everything seems quite normal. But it is not, because Alex took a shine to the amulet in the shrine and pocketed it. They go to a bar where they meet three English guys, they get chatting and drinking and eventually all go back to the house where the women make them feel welcome, except that is for the distinct lack of alcohol. All is not lost as one of the guys has brought a hip flask with him. This is quickly offered around the women who all take a drink, only to find that they have been drugged. This is the point at which one would expect the usual Rohypnol rape and subsequent revenge killings to set in, yet we are treated to a scenario in which the rape does not occur, instead all three women get very unladylike with some heavy duty bondage and sickeningly violent torture.
This sudden leap into horror is somewhat unexpected as it should realistically have been the women who were tied up; the explanation of what happened is given to us later and doesn't disappoint. When the women wake up they have no recollection of what happened yet soon piece together a scenario in which they got drunk and were Roofied up. A quick look around the rooms reveals the absence of the men and a more thorough search shows that all of the women's jewelry has gone, but the biggest problem they have is that the golden statue of the little girl has also been taken. They now have the task of contacting the agency which supplied the house and telling them that a possibly valuable statue has been stolen. During that particular confession they are told that there was no such statue in the house.
What is already a bizarre turn of events gets even more so when the little girl spirit comes out to play.
Director James Cullen Bressack co-wrote this with author Taryn Hillin, creating what is in my opinion, a somewhat original and classy horror. Everything about the production has a feeling of true quality and it is actually hard to think of anything negative about this film, not as though I would wish to as I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is often the case that young actresses are chosen more for their looks than their acting ability, Ciara Hanna, Emily O'Brien and Jackie Moore are certainly attractive enough to enhance any film with their presence and I am happy to say that their acting leaves nothing to be desired either.
Being based in Thailand and filmed on location brings authentic depth to the back story, a depth I have found lacking in films like the American remake of "The Grudge" and I actually believed the sort of ritual performed early on in the film was not beyond the scope of possibility. Irada Hoyos deserves special mention here in her role as the golden girl 'Vanida'.
Pernicious is a clever film, it brings the shocks with ease and even when there is nothing really horrific or creepy going on there is a definite tone of malevolence ably provided by the next-door neighbour , an ancient man with a touch of Alzheimer's and the alarming habit of randomly turning up in the house the girls occupy. There's more to him than meets the eye too. All this film really needs is a crazy old Witch living in a shack in the woods, oh, hang on, it actually has one of those as well.
Should there be a future collaboration between James Cullen Bressack and Taryn Hillin I would be only too happy to watch it as it's obvious to me that they have a flair for this kind of movie.
Benetone Films releases Pernicious on June 19 in theatres and On Demand.
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