Tag Archives: james cullen bressack

2017 in Review – March

“That’s it. Game over man. Game over…”

…although it’s not quite “game over” yet for Andrew Brooker who continues his challenge to watch 365 films in 365 days.

Continue reading 2017 in Review – March

2017 in Review – February

deadshot

“Y’all jokers must be crazy.”

February. Awards month. This second diary entry starts with a list of Oscar nominated films I would love to get through before the awards ceremony on the last Sunday of the month. Try as I might, I don’t have the time nor energy to travel up and down the country to obscure little picturehouses to watch three hour French films about the government’s war on Brussels sprouts (I don’t know what any of these films are about. Call that an educated guess) so that pipe dream was never going to be doable.

Maybe that’s a tick list for next year. One challenge at a time. Maybe next year will be the year I watch every single nominated film. For now, it’s all about these 365 films I have to watch. So…


the martian 2015Week One

The first week felt pretty busy when it came to films. More blind luck than organisation, the month started by knocking another film of the blu-ray pile of shame; The Martian‘s extended cut burned through our evening on day one. I honestly forgot how good that film was.

The three year old’s journey through the MCU continued with Iron Man 2 on the same night we bought foreign film Oscar nom A Man Called Ove. The Saturday of the Failed Critics Pubcast gave me train time for a first watch of 1984’s Bad Taste and a repeat visit to Luc Besson’s Lucy. A family trip for the excellent Lego Batman Movie, followed by the pretty rubbish Gold was how that Sunday started. Rounded it off with the traditional yearly watch of Any Given Sunday.

Early February ended a bit of a mixed bag. The hopefully final but surprisingly fun Resident Evil movie was certainly better than the first Schumacher Batman that I somehow ended up watching. But with the last films of the week being the great Hidden Figures and the sublime Gone Baby Gone, things were looking up.


mad-max-chromeWeek Two

In my misguided attempt to watch all the Oscar nominated films, I forced myself through a couple of horrendous films to start week two. Michael Bay’s Stars and Stripes masturbatory fantasy that is 13 Hours may be one of the worst things I’ve ever seen. Followed by the promising, but overall sleep inducing Passengers felt like the worst way to continue this challenge. Luckily, the newly released “Definitive Directors Cut” of Heat was enough to cleanse the palette.

The next few days was a mix of first watches and old favourites. John Wick and Training Day filling the quota of films we’d seen before; while new films were covered by The Girl With All The Gifts and Fences. All superb choices, if I do say so myself. The bizarre documentary Beware the Slenderman was our Saturday night viewing this week. Four films on the Sunday filled in my numbers nicely, I finished off the weekend with the beautiful, boner inducing “Black and Chrome” cut of Mad Max: Fury Road.

Luckily, work was quiet as this week carried on. An empty office and a stack of paperwork meant iTunes films to pass the time. A couple of films at work, the original Jungle Book with the kid when I got home and I ended the week with an early contender for film of the year, John Wick: Chapter 2.


DEADPOOLWeek Three

More films at work mean that by the time we are watching Leon that evening – another from the Pile of Shame – I’ve added three more to the list. Revisiting last year’s War on Everyone, along with an impromptu Paranorman watch and rewatching Antoine Fuqua’s Shooter meant my list had a diverse selection being added.

Excellent espionage thriller/comic book film Captain America: The Winter Soldier and The Founder clocked in at numbers 98 and 99 on my spreadsheet. Leaving space for something special for the next milestone. Film 100 was the first watch of this year, the seventeenth since the film came out almost a year ago to the day. Film 100 was the one, the only, Deadpool.

A couple of animated films, that included the surreal but fun A Cat in Paris brought up the rear for the most part this week. I also managed to get my sticky hands on a review screener for the latest film from one of my favourite directors to end this week. If you ever get the chance, you should definitely watch James Cullen Bressack’s Bethany.


nuns-with-gunsWeek Four

The month begins to come to a close. The original cut of Mad Max: Fury Road kicks things off (yes, a different cut is a different film. My challenge, my rules). Peter Berg’s Patriots Day and Gore Verbinski’s A Cure For Wellness meant the week had an up and down middle section. You can hear me wax lyrical about both on the Oscar fallout podcast. This week also saw us dig into one of the worst films we have ever seen; Nude Nuns with Big Guns is just as award worthy as you think it is.

Loads of films with the kid this week, too. On request, we saw three, THREE, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies. The two recent ones and the original 1990 version. Creepy, rapey Michelangelo aside, they ain’t the worst movies in the world. And she loved them, that’s all that matters. It’s the same reason I sat through the Angry Birds Movie again! Luckily, she didn’t watch our final one of that weekend, we watched the dug in to The Greasy Strangler. Just… wow.

Finally, after weeks of joking around about how ridiculous it is that we could live in a world where Suicide Squad won an academy award, it actually happened. So a rewatch of the film I loved that everyone else despised; the Oscar winning Suicide Squad. Then, as I write this, I’m in my seat at the local IMAX waiting for the premiere of Logan to begin. And thanks to Fox’s brilliant marketing ploy to show it at 10.23pm, it still counts as a February film. And much like last month, the second I turn this in, it’s onto writing the review.

This is getting tiring. But at this point, I’ve done more than half of the number I totalled last year. That can’t be bad.

Two months in the bag. Only ten to go.

Films seen this month: 54

Current count, as of 28th of February: 114 of 365.

Bethany

“Beauty is just so brief.”

Haunted house horror can often be a procedural affair. I’ve sat through far too many that follow the exact same blueprint as the last two-dozen and don’t do anything to mix things up. You’re left with nothing but a tick-sheet of predictable horror to endure.

I’ll be honest, as much as I am a fan of indie horror director James Cullen Bressack, and as much as I’ve loved most of his films, I went into Bethany with some concerns that I was in for another paint-by-numbers horror with nothing to make it stand out from the crowd. Not because I don’t think Bressack has it in him to do something different; but because as a true student of the genre, he would be forgiven (kinda) for following the subgenre’s guiding principles for his first haunted house flick.

Still, I’m not a prideful guy. I can admit when I’m wrong. And I can admit when I absolutely should have had faith in the filmmaker that I’ve always had faith in before, and not doubted his skill.

Moving back into her childhood home after her mother has died, Claire (Stephanie Estes) and her husband Aaron (Zack Ward) are hoping to leave a chaotic and traumatic past behind them. What should be a separation from the world that’s done them more harm than good quickly becomes an abject lesson in how to forcefully revisit a childhood that scarred you for life.

Now, Claire is living in the house she once shared as a child with her beauty obsessed mother (Shannon Doherty) and her younger years are, quite literally, coming back to haunt her.

Claire grew up with her best and only friend Bethany; a figment of her imagination, a ghost in the walls that kept her company when her abusive mother went off the rails. Now she’s back home, Bethany appears to be looking for company again. Aaron and his tormented wife are going to need to work out what she wants and how to appease her before the now bitter and vengeful spirit gets the better of them.

Ok, so it’s not totally original and it does sound like a lot of indie horror you’ve already seen. But that’s not to say that it is the same as all the dried up old shit that populates the bottom row of the Netflix horror section. On the contrary, to call this simply a horror movie would be to do it a real disservice. Bethany dances a line between traditional horror and psychological thriller; and it’s a line that that so many have failed to conquer before. It’s a tough genre to crack because you need to be able to build an atmosphere that convinces your audience that this is something that could affect them. It has to not just be believable, but it has to be something that plays on the deepest fears of anyone witness to it. Ghosts in the walls should do the trick, huh?

Bressack has done himself a world of good by getting a good writing partner. Teaming up again with Zack Ward for the screenplay has brought a tightly scripted story with very little in the way of throw-away dialogue or fat that can be cut away.

Last year, the pair wrote Ward’s feature directorial debut together, Restoration; a decent flick that proved the duo could script a film together and it not be complete rubbish. With Bethany this writing team have definitely found their flow and they have worked hard to make sure that every time you think you know what’s coming, you’re usually wrong.

And that’s where Bethany really shines.

You would be forgiven for thinking you were walking into a predictable, run-of-the-mill horror, because that’s just what we’ve come to expect from so much of the genre nowadays. From the smallest indie to the biggest Blumhouse production, we’re just conditioned to expect aggressive blandness when it comes to modern horror. Thank god for people like Bressack and Ward trying to inject something a little different into these films.

It’s not necessarily success you need when you try something different; you simply need to have attempted to shake things up. As quickly as every trope is rolled out (let’s say, oh, I don’t know, steamy mirrors on bathroom cabinets that you can open) and you’re positive something is gonna jump out behind you, Bressack calls your bluff and does something completely left-field and creeps the shit out of you instead. It’s a genuine breath of fresh air to not be able to guess what’s coming.

As you get towards the end of this tight 90 minutes, as the last card is flipped over and the reveal you’ve been biting your nails to get to arrives, it is an honest-to-goodness “holy shit” moment that’s as strong a horror reveal as it is an emotional gut punch. It’s at that point that you realise just how much of a personally resonating story this must have been for the man behind the camera.

It just feels like a lot of love and effort went into the creation of Bethany; it feels like James Cullen Bressack is trying to carve out a little piece of horror to make his own and it feels like this director (that I’ve been championing for so long) may have made the film that gets him known in far wider circles.

I can only hope.

Failed Critics Podcast: Suicide Pod

joker suicide squad clay enos warner bros

Wearing skimpy clothes and carrying a baseball bat with a miserable face carved into it with a compass, Steve “Har-leaky Quim” Norman is not about to let your perception of his sexual promiscuity define him as he wanders in to lead this week’s podcast, all about DC’s latest entry to their extended movie universe: it’s David Ayer’s rogues-done-good ensemble actioner, Suicide Squad.

Taking pot-shots at the film with his uber-cool Nerf missile launcher strapped to his bogey-covered sleeve, Andrew “Deadsnot” Brooker lends a slightly-crusty hand on this week’s episode. As does Owen “The Inch-and-less” Hughes, possessed by the spirit of a stroppy old misanthropic witch, but you probably can’t tell that there’s anything different about him compared with any previous podcast appearance in fairness.

Suicide Squad gets a once over from the ragtag bunch of misfits spoiler-free, before a post-credits review that delves more deeply into some of the finer points of the plot, should you wish to listen to us prattle on even longer.

We also preview Hunter Johnson’s upcoming indie-horror 2 Jennifer – the sequel to James Cullen Bressack’s 2013 indie thriller To Jennifer – shot entirely on an iPhone, as well as Steve’s rewatch of iconic American TV series Homeland, plus a first watch of this year’s folk-horror The Witch. The Asylum doesn’t escape criticism on the pod either after releasing yet another entry in the unbelievably popular franchise, Sharknado 4: The 4th Awakens.

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2 Jennifer

“I never said I wanted to get away with it. That was never the plan.”

Independent found-footage and home-video style films can be an acquired taste. You can watch through dozens and dozens of them before you come across one worth watching, let alone one you love. So, a couple of years back when I came across James Cullen Bressack’s To Jennifer, I was blown away. I promise, I’m not going to turn this into another article where I gush over just how much I love Bressack. God knows, I’ve done that plenty.

These kinds of films aren’t the type to usually get themselves a sequel, but here we are, with writer/director Hunter Johnson not only helming this smartphone sequel, but starring in it too.

Very quickly it’s revealed that To Jennifer was, in fact, just a film; and director James Cullen Bressack (playing himself) would be up for someone grabbing the reins and directing a sequel. Taking that as a call to action, wannabe director Spencer (Hunter Johnson) heads out to LA and gets to work on his home recorded follow-up.

Hooking up with his buddy Mack (David Coupe), Spencer sets about making the perfect sequel to the film he loves so much. Documenting everything for us to see, Spencer gets his perfect Jennifer (Lara Jean Mummert) – and gets to work letting his obsession get the better of him. With phone and crew in tow, the fan-turned-filmmaker is set to let his dark secret out, spelling trouble for everyone around him.

Sometimes, nothing can be more fun than watching our hero descend into madness. Especially in horror films when the protagonist may or may not be the bad guy too. 2 Jennifer is no different. Spencer is a fun character to watch, especially once it becomes apparent that something isn’t quite right. The moment that you realise that 2 Jennifer is also a comedy is gold. When the creepy director refuses to audition any actress whose name isn’t Jennifer – and loses all interest, becoming increasingly dismissive when he gets his way – I couldn’t help but laugh for a big portion of the film. The second you realise exactly what’s going on, Johnson directs himself doing some pretty heinous shit to his own character and to others. Man, what a pay-off.

Like so many before it, 2 Jennifer is mostly build-up, with a blood-soaked finale that doesn’t disappoint. It suffers from the same budgetary problems as so many indies before it, horror or not. But what it does, it does pretty well and you won’t catch me ragging on a film for having no budget (well, not a film that I enjoyed watching, anyways) and I really did enjoy this one. I found myself completely riveted.

I think it goes without saying that this is made for indie horror fans; and certainly fans of the original Jennifer film. If, like me, you found yourself excited when it was announced that 2 Jennifer would belong to a trilogy, then go right ahead and see this film. If you like fun little horror films, I would call both this and its predecessor required reading. Definitely give it a butcher’s. At less than an hour and a half, it can’t and doesn’t outstay its welcome. The time you do spend with it will make you laugh, cringe and wince. What more could you ask for?

2 Jennifer releases on your favourite Video-on-Demand service on August 19th. 

Failed Critics Podcast: Civil War

civil war

Battle lines have been drawn. Treaties are being drafted. The U.N. were informed.

It’s Steve ‘Captain Anyway’ Norman on one side, using his sense of justice and principles to determine what’s right. Opposite is Owen ‘Irony Man’ Hughes, putting his logic and rational thinking to the test. Listeners, choose your side as Civil War erupts on this week’s Failed Critics Podcast!

Andrew Brooker and Brian Plank are caught in the crossfire, therefore rather than being referred to as “guests” this week, you can legitimately call them Failed Critics collateral damage.

If you haven’t guessed what the main review on the latest episode is yet, then go speak to your doctor. But just for clarification, it is indeed the latest Marvel Cinematic Universe blockbuster, Captain America: Civil War – and boy do we talk, and talk, and talk about this one. We have our usual spoiler-free review later in the show, followed by a Spoiler Alert after the end credits, where the team go into more depth without worrying about ruining the plot, twists, characters… or anything else for that matter.

It’s not only Marvel on the pod this week, although the show does kick off with a chat about a potential Punisher solo-series on Netflix after a short hastily prepared quiz. Speaking of, Steve sinks his teeth into the latest Netflix movie Special Correspondents, starring Ricky Gervais. Owen and Brooker also review the latest James Cullen Bressack / Zack Ward indie-thriller Restoration (out today (3rd May!)), before Brooker also tackles video-game adaptation Ratchet & Clank and Brian has a look at cult classic Rollerball.

Join us again next week as we pray that our cinemas show something, anything, other than just Civil War for the next three months.

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White Crack Bastard

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“This is my shock therapy.”

We are a horror loving house. We try everything from unheard of indies to Lionsgate paint-by-numbers shit in our efforts to find decent horror flicks. So when fellow Failed Critic – and one of the few whose recommendations I’d watch without question – pointed me in James Cullen Bressack’s direction with To Jennifer, I never looked back.

I’ve bleated on time and time again about my love for Bressack and his films, so I won’t go on too much about it again here. Suffice to say that, with his earlier work not available in the UK, when I get the opportunity to watch and review a JCB flick, I jump in with both feet, dead excited; and White Crack Bastard was no different. Although the side-step from horror to drama left me wondering what I was letting myself in for.

Luke Anderson is the White Crack Bastard of note, a well paid freelance photographer who, in his copious amounts of free time, likes to while away his hours with his raggedy friends and a crack pipe between his lips. Luke isn’t anywhere close to needing to live this life; he does it as a form of therapy and self-medication, justifying it by telling himself that he’s only doing it so that when his head is on straight, he can appreciate what he has in his real life away from the pipe. Luke’s problem is that he isn’t working as much as he should and he’s increasingly spending more time smoking his way towards self-destruction. As he spirals out of control, it starts to effect his life outside of his own personal drug-fuelled therapy sessions and begins to ruin everything for him.

Now let me get this out of the way, because I’m truly mortified that I have to say it. White Crack Bastard is not good. The film is riddled with issues that, when I wasn’t bored, seemed to be put in purposefully to annoy me. For instance, Rhett Benz’s Luke Anderson seems to have an issue keeping track of his car when he goes on a bender. But what might be a running joke in a TV series or a reason to giggle in a longer, more fleshed out film, is simply an annoyance that is apparently put there to use more than once and keep the running time up a bit. It didn’t work in Dude, Where’s My Car? and it certainly didn’t work here.

White Crack Bastard plays like a student film; and that’s ok. It’s fine that everyone from writers to directors need to hone their craft and sharpen their skills and the only way to do that is to keep doing what they are doing. But once you get to a point where your film is getting a VOD release, it’s time to realise that you’re going to be poked and prodded the same way any other film would be. Biases aside, I am aware that this film is a few years old now; that it’s only Bressack’s third film – and more importantly the first that he made but didn’t write or produce. With poor script work from first time writer Lisa Vachon and even worse editing from a guy who hasn’t worked in the industry since; James Cullen Bressack was fighting uphill, on roller skates, with one hand tied behind his back the entire time – and, sadly, it shows.

I’m not sure I can recommend White Crack Bastard to anyone that isn’t a devoted fan of someone involved in its creation; and even then, I think it would be hard to justify anymore than a one-time rental. Bressack’s earlier work, and the films he’s made since, far surpass this messy, incoherent film and I genuinely can’t see any reason to give this film the time of day.

Mr. Cullen Bressack, in the unlikely event you’re reading this, I love you man. Your films have quickly found a special place in my collection and I cannot wait to get my hands on Bethany when it arrives later this year. But man, this wasn’t a film indicative of your skills as a filmmaker at all.

White Crack Bastard gets its first release, three years after completion via BrinkVision on 20 February. Check out the trailer below:

Failed Critics Podcast: Your Toughest Opponent

hans gruber

Inviting you to listen to this podcast may make you uncomfortable. Not because we’re walking around naked, but as one of our longest episodes for a good while (at nearly one hour and three-quarters long), you may get something of a numb-bum if you listen to the whole thing in a single sitting! Unfortunately there are no ways to montage your way out of it either.

Nevertheless, in this bumper episode, your hosts Steve Norman and Owen Hughes are joined by special guests Andrew Brooker and Tony Black to wag their fingers in the direction of the recent Oscar nominations, celebrate the life and work of Alan Rickman, and discuss a petition to actually lower the rated R status for the upcoming comicbook movie Deadpool.

As well as this, there’s room for Room, time for Creed, and for us to revel in The Revenant as we spend the latter part of the podcast discussing the three big new release reviews of this past weekend. We even take a look over what else we’ve watched in the past seven days. Brooker apologises to James Cullen Bressack for not getting on with White Crack Bastard; Steve, in tribute to Alan Rickman, revisits Kevin Smith’s 90’s classic Dogma; Owen reviews the recently released My Nazi Legacy documentary; and Tony is impressed with Ryan Reynolds after his surprising resurgence after seeing The Woman In Gold.

And that’s still not all as we start (as ever) with a quiz and Owen suffers through the first episode of Rob Schneider’s latest TV series, Real Rob, as penance for losing last week’s quiz.

You can see why it’s such a long episode!

Join us again next week as we bring back Liam and Andrew Alcock for a World Cinema triple bill.

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Failed Critics Podcast: Straight Outta FrightFest

la-ca-0727-straight-outta-compton-003You are now about to witness the strength of street knowledge as four white boys from the UK discuss N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton on this week’s Failed Critics Podcast. Joining crazy mother-flipper Steve Norman and another crazy arsed bad mother-flipper Owen Hughes on our latest episode is Andrew Brooker, a dangerous mother-flipper raising hell, and controlling the automatic is Mike Shawcross.

We’re not entirely as gangster as you might expect, believe it or not, as we kick off the podcast with a quiz and a short tribute to Wes Craven. We manage to express ourselves in a more dignified manner befitting four dudes sat around in their pants on Skype, late on a Tuesday night, during reviews of video-game adaptation Hitman: Agent 47, Nic Cage thriller Joe, the pilot episode of Fear the Walking Dead and James Cullen Bressack’s indie-horror To Jennifer.

On top of all that, we have a round-up of the good, the bad and the ugly that came out of this year’s Film4 FrightFest. Get your notepad and pen ready as Mike reveals everything you should be adding to your watch list over the next 12 months – including These Final Hours, Turbo Kid, We Are Still Here, Bait and loads more! I’m not exaggerating. LOADS more.

Join us again the same time next week as Paul ‘Slice’ Field returns to mull over No Escape and The Transporter Refuelled.

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Failed Critics Podcast: Mad Critics Fury Podcast

mad maxHello and welcome to another episode of the Failed Critics Podcast! Joining hosts Steve Norman and Owen Hughes this week are Andrew Brooker and Jackson Tyler, sharing their opinion on the latest installment of the Pitch Perfect franchise, as well as George Miller’s triumphant return to post-apocalyptic Australia with Mad Max: Fury Road.

Starting off the podcast as ever is our quiz – in its new revamped format! With things teetering on a knife-edge; will Steve lose and be forced to watch Kill Keith yet again; will he win and force Owen to watch Kill Keith again? Or, with a bit of luck, will the cursed video-tape that is Keith Chegwin’s magnum opus finally be passed on to somebody else so we never have to darken our DVD player with it ever again?

We also chat about the 68th Cannes (with an ‘s’) Film Festival, from the end of the McConaissance to institutional sexism. There’s even room for Owen to revisit a film talked about exactly 150 episodes ago; Jackson shares his love for Alexander Payne’s high-school political-satire Election; Steve puts his geo-gea-jolly-ologist expertise to good use when reviewing The Day After Tomorrow; and Brooker delves into the twisted mind of James Cullen Bressack with Pernicious ahead of its UK release next month.

Join us again next week for reviews of the Poltergeist remake (why?), Disney’s Tomorrowland and the latest CGI-laden disaster movie San Andreas.

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Pernicious

by Andrew Brooker (@Brooker411)

perniciousDon’t follow the creepy Asian girl!

I was introduced to director James Cullen Bressack’s work a couple of years ago with his found footage film To Jennifer. Filmed and edited completely on an iPhone, the film wasn’t the greatest horror movie I’d ever seen but Bressack’s creative juices flowed from every frame and at a speedy 75 minutes I finished the film happy with what I’d seen. I spent a little while catching up with some of his back catalogue and really thoroughly enjoyed myself. Films like My Pure Joy and 13/13/13 might not be the greatest films you’ve ever seen, but you can bet your last pennies that Bressack had a ton of fun while he was making them with every scene evidence to that fact. It’s this that makes James Cullen Bressack’s film stand out from the huge amounts of low budget rubbish that the horror genre sees nowadays.

Bressack quickly became one of my favourite directors a couple of Christmases ago when his distributor finally put what may be his most infamous film, Hate Crime onto video-on-demand and I was finally able to watch it. I’ve spoken a lot in the past about my love for Hate Crime so I won’t bleat on about it here. Suffice to say that on a super-low budget, Bressack has made one of the most horrific and disturbing films I’ve ever seen. A film that easily sits as one of my favourites but I’m not particularly comfortable recommending it to anyone outside of my twisted little circle! So when the director done an interview where he described Pernicious as his “…most violent film to date” I was intrigued, then worried, then intrigued some more, then really scared. I just wasn’t sure that that was a statement that Pernicious could live up to and if it did, what on earth was I about to let myself in for? Thankfully, Pernicious didn’t disappoint.

Sisters Alex and Rachel, along with their friend Julia have come to Thailand in search of the holiday adventure of a lifetime. Having travelled half way around the world to admire the scenery, party a bit and maybe squeeze in a little volunteer work, the girls quickly find their rented home away from home and explore the gorgeous house they will be spending their time in Thailand in. Normally, when you or me arrive at our holiday home, we go round, call dibs on rooms, check the kitchen and the TV, these girls did all that and more as they discover a life size gold statue of a girl draped in a bloody sheet given pride of place in the upstairs room clearly there to be worshipped. It turns out, the statue is a “Kumari”, without spoiling too much, it’s a statue that holds the soul of a young girl, a freaky bastardisation on an already pretty creepy Nepalese tradition of worshipping young girls as “Living goddesses” that does exactly what it’s meant to, it gives you the shivers.

Hardly any time has passed between the girls arriving in this most traditional of South East Asian countries before they find themselves in a bar grabbing themselves a couple of strange guys to take back to their holiday hideaway. Here is where the fun really begins. The girls suddenly take on a fun new hobby in the form of ritual torture. Doing almost nothing to hide his ode to Hostel, James Cullen Bressack breaks open his gross little box of toys for some pretty disgusting scenes that sit right up there with torture porn staples like Saw or Grotesque. An extremely uncomfortable ten minutes that includes the slow removal of tongues and eyes, guaranteed to make even the toughest of us squirm just a little bit. Possessed to do these things, the girls wake up the following morning thinking it was nothing but a strange, disturbing nightmare and go about their business. Well… Kind of. Before the Kumari statue has even begun to get involved in the girls’ lives, they are feeling its effects and ignoring its warnings. Choosing instead to see what the golden idol has up her shiny sleeves next.

James Cullen Bressack specialises in extra-strength gruesome on a low budget and Pernicious delivers the blood by the bucket. But what makes the film rise above the rest of the cut-price horror we’ve seen in the past is Bressack’s ability to emote the feeling of terror from the smallest thing. The man puts me on the edge of my seat in almost every one of his scenes and I love him for it. Even when the jump scares are obvious and well telegraphed, they still get the jump. When it comes to scaring the crap out of you, Bressack knows what he’s doing and he does it very well. The director has a spectacular eye for detail and every scene that the Kumari statue is in, every frame that the effigy fills is 100% creepy. Her appearance on screen got the hairs on the back of my neck standing and my arse shivering wondering what the bloody hell was coming next!

Pernicious is a masterclass in low-budget horror from a true student of the genre. It’s not perfect, the acting stumbles a little bit, especially towards the end and the info-dump scene that explains the story is rather weak but aside from that, it’s a fun film that scares and jumps in all the right places with enough blood and gore to satisfy even the most bloodthirsty of horror fans. I enjoyed my time in Thailand with Mr. Bressack and I can’t wait to see what he does when a studio gives him a big budget film.

Pernicious releases in cinemas and On Demand June 19