Reed (Christopher Abbott) is a hard working bloke who doesn’t deal particularly well with stress. His wife, Mona (Laia Costa) recently gave birth to a very fussy, noisy baby and he really needs to blow off some steam. So, Reed decides it’s probably about time he kidnaps and murders a prostitute, something he’s been wanting to do for a while.
Piercing is the kind of film that lets you know, pretty early on, that it’s not fucking around. Our main character, Reed, is introduced apparently contemplating sticking an ice pick into his baby, so the tone is established in short order. It’s also, weirdly, often quite funny and even a bit delightful from time to time. The freaky weirdness kicks into high gear with the introduction of prostitute and potential victim, Jackie (Mia Wasikowska) who brings her own brand of madness to the table, making the film a quirky, sometimes nasty, two-hander.
Director Nicolas Pesce is aware he’s telling a tale in familiar territory, so keeps the pace brisk (the film runs a slender 81 minutes) and manages to maintain the curious tension throughout, even if the third act feels a little more familiar than the rest of the piece. Christopher Abbott is delightfully awful as the sweaty, mumbling sad sack wannabe serial killer, Reed, and Mia Wasikowska brings a weird, engaging energy to Jackie, even if her accent seems to spin a globe to pick a new country of origin every ten minutes or so.
Ultimately, however, your appreciation of Piercing will depend on whether you enjoy the strange story it weaves. Based on a book by Ryū Murakami, who wrote the literary inspiration for Takashi Miike’s Audition, which should give you a vague idea of what’s in store… Ultimately, Piercing is a bloody, stylish yarn that doesn’t quite stick the landing, but will keep you on your toes, wondering what fresh horror awaits.