Piercing – USA, 2018

‘Practice doesn’t always make perfect.’

Piercing is a 2018 American dark comedy horror feature film written and directed by Nicolas Pesce (The Eyes of My Mother) based on the 1994 novel of the same name by Ryū Murakami (Audition). The movie stars Christopher Abbott, Mia Wasikowska and Laia Costa.

Plot:

Reed (Christopher Abbott) is going on a business trip. He kisses his wife and infant son goodbye, but in lieu of a suitcase filled with clothes, he’s packed a toothbrush and a murder kit. Everything is meticulously planned: check into a hotel and kill an unsuspecting victim. Only then will he rid himself of his devious impulses and continue to be a good husband and father.

However, Reed gets more than he bargained for with Jackie (Mia Wasikowska), an alluring call girl who arrives at his room. First, they relax and get in the mood, but when there’s an unexpected disruption, the balance of control begins to sway back and forth between the two. Is he seeing things? Who’s playing whom? Before the night is over, a feverish nightmare will unfold, and Reed and Jackie will seal their bond in blood…

Reviews:

” …beware those without a strong stomach, things get nasty in this film. And disturbing. But if you can handle some disturbing content with gore to match, I think you’ll be right at home giving Piercing its day in court. It really is a film that feels like a mixture of two of our beloved genre’s top David’s – David Lynch and David Cronenberg.” Mike Sprague, Arrow in the Head

Piercing can’t seem to figure out how to advance or complicate its sick-joke premise […] Pesce, unfortunately, sees only a kinky power struggle: Audition as a one-note black comedy, albeit one made with the visual flair he exhibited in his truly disturbing debut…” A.V. Club

Piercing is a propulsive, intricately crafted thriller that plays like the twisted lovechild of American Psycho and Phantom Thread […] the film is carefully crafted to never let up on the tension while always pulling the viewer deeper into the intimacy…” Collider

Piercing isn’t so much slow burn as casually incandescent. Tethering two people together, even for only 75 minutes, can tax patience in ways that Spartan production design, no matter how lovely, can’t completely counteract. By virtue of its stage play aesthetic, the film refrains from hitting a high heat, bubbling on an acceptable simmer that can singe fingertips without peaking into a full fire.” Ian Sedensky, Culture Crypt

“The stakes of the game are out in the open, it seems, but the question of consent lingers stickily in the air. Is someone about to get killed, and if so, is that person actually OK with it? We don’t know for sure even at the end, but that final moment before the credits offers a surprise so strange and pitch-perfect, it makes the whole affair look almost, well, sweet.” The Hollywood Reporter

Piercing plays out like a swift tribute to Takashi Miike’s Audition filtered through Quentin-Tarantinoesque exuberance: Split screens, ubiquitous pop songs, and elegant camerawork make it clear that this wacky two-hander treasures idiosyncratic flourishes over narrative sophistication; clocking in at a brisk 81 minutes, it’s at once enjoyable in the moment and utterly disposable.” IndieWire

“The film is expertly crafted with jewel-toned cinematography, terrifically sleazy saxophone music, and performances by Abbott and Wasikowska that take turns seizing command. Still, like Reed’s solo rehearsals, Piercing has the feel of a blueprint, a talented man exercising his technical skills while waiting for a whack at the real deal.” Variety

Cast and credits:

  • Christopher Abbott … Reed
  • Mia Wasikowska … Jackie
  • Laia Costa … Mona
  • Olivia Bond … Bunny Girl
  • Maria Dizzia … Reed’s mother
  • Marin Ireland … Chevonne
  • Dakota Lustick … TBC
  • Wendell Pierce … Doctor

Running time:

81 minutes

Production companies:

  • Paradise City
  • YL Pictures Co
  • Borderline Films
  • Memento Films

Release:

The film had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 20, 2018.

Piercing was released in the United States by Universal Pictures in limited theaters and on Digital HD and VOD platforms on February 1, 2019. It will be released on Blu-ray and DVD by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment on March 12.

A British DVD from Vertigo Releasing is due out on 1 April 2019.

Trivia:

Features music from Italian giallo thrillers The Red Queen Kills Seven Times (1972) and Tenebrae (1982).

Related:

The Eyes of My Mother – USA, 2016

Audition – Japan, 1999

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