LA Horror Review: “Pernicious”

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While James Cullen Bressack continues filming his latest project, “Bethany,” LAHorror.com had the pleasure of viewing “Pernicious,” Bressack’s ultra violent ghost film that’s making the rounds now in the horror circuit. Fans of Bressack’s films will no doubt be in for a shocking surprise, as this is not only one of his most brutal and violent films (though probably not as rough as “Hate Crime,” which has been banned in the UK), but also his biggest film in terms of scope. “Pernicious” is a horror genre blending blood bath that will keep you guessing until the very end…

It was supposed to be an adventure of a lifetime as three young girls spend the summer in Thailand. But their adventure quickly becomes a nightmare when the trio unleashes the spirit of a murdered child with only one thing on her mind – revenge.

“Pernicious” works on a variety of levels and manages to differentiate itself from other films with similar set ups. We’ve seen young American’s overseas get brutalized before, but torture is far from the only thing “Pernicious” has to offer. Instead we get a rather clever ghost story, with elements of the torture porn nasties of the early 2000s, as well as something completely new and freaky…the gold little girl statue. All of this is cast over the beautiful landscape of Thailand, which adds to the mystery and isolation that this film offers. It’s hard to pinpoint the scariest aspect of “Pernicious,” but let me just say that the golden statue is freaky as hell. You’ll understand when you watch it. I love when horror films master several subgenres in one picture, and “Pernicious” does just that.

eyeballAnother thing that “Pernicious” masters is the gore. Can we talk about the gore? Toenails, eyeballs, throat slashes and oh so much more. “Pernicious” brings it. In fact, it’s a golden blood bath. If you’re a gore hound that likes it to look legit, then look no further. Watch “Pernicious.”

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But what’s good gore without good victims (and killers)? Our trio of leads, Alex (Ciara Hanna), Julie (Emily O’Brien) and Rachel (Jackie Moore) all do a great job keeping this film engaging and entertaining. Humor when humors needed, creepy when things get creepy. There are times when their Americanisms play a bit hard, but in all honesty it’s believable. We’ve all got friends like these girls. O’Brien in particular steals the show in a couple of scenes, one of them involving a very large knife and another involving a creepy witch doctor.

Bressack no doubt has hit a new high in his filmmaking career with “Pernicious,” and if this is any indication as to what’s to come then horror filmmakers should start to get really excited. Bressack directs “Pernicious” extremely effectively, his real talent shines when things get rough for these characters.  The sequences involving the golden statue were especially effective. Bressack also litters clues to the films final secrets throughout, which makes a repeat viewing especially enjoyable. If Bressack isn’t on your radar already, get with the program and catch up on his work. Starting with “Pernicious” isn’t a bad idea at all.

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I really enjoyed this film, and if you’re a sicko like me then chances are you will too. So keep your eyes peeled for this one…you don’t want to miss this golden opportunity for terror!

Read our pre “Pernicious” interview with James Cullen Bressack here. You can also read the LAHorror.com reviews of his films “Hate Crime” & “To Jennifer” here. Follow Bressack on Twitter for all the latest on his work.

Four Horror Films That We’re DYING To See…

So much great horror!!!  We thought we’d take a moment to show you a couple of bad-ass trailers for some indie horror films that we’re absolutely DYING to see!  Keep your eyes peeled for these flicks, especially if you like murder, monsters and horrifying GORE!  Enjoy horror lovers!

Truth or Dare”  (Facebook / Twitter)

This trailer just dropped TODAY and damn it looks fucking nasty!  I love a ton of gore in a horror flick so if this trailer is any indication of things to come, then this looks like a must see.  This flick has been absolutely killing it in the horror festivals, and major props to filmmaker / #ScreamQueen Jessica Cameron for showing us some of the gross stuff in this trailer!  Can’t wait!

Pernicious”  (Facebook / Twitter)

I’m a sucker for what some people call “torture porn,” and while this trailer definitely has some of that vibe, it also has a mysterious beauty about it, not to mention a very intriguing looking villain.  This film is from James Cullen Bressack, an LAHorror.com featured artist, so you know it’s going to be sick!  And for God’s sake people…don’t fuck with ancient artifacts.  Like, ever.

The Bunnyman Massacre”  (Facebook)

I love bizarre stories where anybody can be a victim, and judging by this trailer “Bunnyman Massacre” looks like it’s going to be super violent and over the top.  We interviewed Director Carl Lindbergh a while back about this film, and since he has been knee deep in horror with several projects coming up, including “Bunnyman 3,” which begins filming soon.  This horror blogger may even be making an appearance…

Brutal”  (Facebook)

Okay, so this doesn’t necessarily look like a horror movie per say, but damn it looks disgusting!  While I’m sort of a noob when it comes to MMA, I definitely think this flick looks like a knock out.  Director Donald Lawrence Flaherty certainly knows how to ramp up the intensity, and it definitely looks like this flick will live up to it’s own name…brutal!

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LA Horror Presents: James Cullen Bressack

If you’re a lover of indie horror, then you should already know the name of our next featured horror artist.  His films have a knack for shocking audiences, turning stomachs and transforming the people and places that should always feel safe into your worst nightmares.  Director / writer / producer James Cullen Bressack is leading a new wave of brutality in indie horror that is rarely matched.  If you haven’t seen his work, then what the hell are you reading this for – go get one of his movies, goddamn it!

Bressack broke into the scene with “My Pure Joy,” a nasty little flick that he directed at the tender age of 18 years old, and his films have only gotten more intense and grisly.  In 2013, Bressack had a breakout year with three feature length horror films, including “Hate Crime,” which details the tragic events of a really twisted home invasion, “To Jennifer,” a super dark horror comedy with a shocking climax and “13/13/13,” an ultra gory interpretation of a modern apocalypse.  And while each one of his films has an engaging story and nasty murders, the thing that really stands out with Bressack’s work is the passion for the genre that oozes off the screen…which can be seen by the quality of his films all around.

The actors in his films buy into this passion, as there is never a poor performance in a genre that is often hard to do right.  The cinematography is always intense, be it shot on a traditional camera or even an iPhone (i.e. “To Jennifer”),  and to be a set decorator or make-up artist in a Bressack film would be a designer’s horror dream, as this is someone who not only understands what works in this genre, but someone who takes those concepts and amps them up 100%.  If you’re a fan of the extreme, brutal and super freaky horror, then you can’t do wrong with any Bressack film.

eyeballBressack’s next film, “Pernicious” is already creating a lot of buzz and seemingly for good reason. The spirit of a murdered child is unleashed with one thing on her mind: revenge.  And if the publicity stills from the movie are any indication (see right), this movie will be no joke. I’m in.

We had a chance to catch up with Bressack to talk about his films, horror in general and what has influenced this madman!  Check out our interview…enjoy horror lovers!

LAHorror:  What is your earliest “horror” memory?  In real life or in art?  Where did it all begin?

James Cullen Bressack:  It was for sure obsessing over the VHS cover art for “Hellraiser” that really helped my love for horror.  Pinhead looked so fuckin’ cool.  I would look at that cover every day and draw pictures of it at the age of four.  That and watching the TV show “Are You Afraid of the Dark.”

LAHorror:  What really scares you?

JCB:  Midgets… Little people… Political correctness.

LAHorror:  The trio of horror that you were behind in 2013 (“Hate Crime,” “To Jennifer” & “13/13/13”) all had excellent acting, Jody Barton in particular.  As a director, how do you engage with your actors to get these intense and memorable performances?

JCB:  I love working with Jody.  I am a strong believer that film is a collaborative medium.  It is a living breathing thing.  When working with actors on their character, it’s not just about my ideas, but theirs as well.  I like to ground things in reality.

Let’s say we were making a movie and you were the actor and you played the killer in the film.  The important thing is to humanize the character so the audience connects to them and don’t understand why.  That’s why “Psycho” was so brilliant.  We start to feel for Norman.  A killer is a human; they have wants, needs, emotions.  And every action is done for a reason.  We would dissect everything about the character, past what is written on the page and imagine them as a blank canvas.  Then we would both throw our ideas about the character at the canvas and whatever stuck for both of us would paint the picture of who this person is.  Always important to tap into what the character’s thought process is and what their moment before is.  They are so loaded with intent, darkness and meat that they are unbelievably interesting to dig into.  I would have you keep a journal as if you were that person.  And would probably want to spend a week or two before shooting going through the script together over and over again and observing your natural behaviors.

As a director, it’s important to play therapist with the actor as well and have them open up to you about real things from their own life in order to tie them into the actual character.  I would have to develop a mutual trust and understand your triggers…Needless to say I’m obsessive about character work with my actors.  I make them work hard.

LAHorror:  What’s your “dream” project? Any topics that you’d really like to explore?

JCB:  I want to make a movie like “Goodfellas.”  NUFF said.

LAHorror:  How do you approach violence in the writing and production of your films?

JCB:  I have fun with it!  I have a very strong stomach, so I spend time trying to gross myself out.  If I chuckle while doing it, I know the audience will squirm.

LAHorror:  A film like “Hate Crime” has some really strong social messages and also some pretty extreme violence.  Are you ever worried that a film like this could be misinterpreted in a negative way?  In the 21st century, are you someone who believes that life imitates art, or that art imitates life?

JCB:  I don’t control how people interpret things; some people always see things as negatives.  Like “Catcher in the Rye” for instance–in no way should that book have caused what it did.  But that’s just crazy people.  There are some in this world.  They attach crazy to anything.  But life doesn’t imitate art.  If it did then answer this, more comedies come out per year then any other movie and I don’t see people getting any funnier, why is that?

LAHorror:  Tell us something about “Pernicious”!!! What are you most excited for audiences to see??

JCB:  “Pernicious” is going to blow you the fuck away!  I’m not joking here.  It makes all my other films look bad.  Haha.  I guarantee you will have an amazing time with it.  Can’t wait to drop a trailer.

LAHorror:  Lastly, and maybe most importantly, who is going to win the Superbowl next year?

JCB:  My penis?

Check out the LAHorror.com reviews of “To Jennifer” and “Hate Crime.”  Stay up to date with James Cullen Bressack’s new film “Pernicious” on Facebook!  You can also follow Bressack on Twitter.  Be sure to rent or buy a copy of your favorite Bressack film on Amazon!