Piercing is the story of man named Reed (played by Christopher Abbott) who is encouraged by his newborn baby to drug, kill, and dismember a prostitute in a hotel room. Murder isn’t as easy as it sounds, and after a Sitcom-esque introduction of Jackie the prostitute (played by Mia Wasikowska), his plans are inadvertently foiled. What follows is a weird sitcom trope of “will they, won’t they”, only referring to murder and not fucking.
Piercing is a stylistic short film plot that was convincingly stretched to a feature length film. The director Nicolas Pesce borrows skillfully from many of my favorite directors. There is a bit of Tarantino, some Wes Anderson, and a healthy dose of David Lynch are included throughout. There aren’t many scares, but lots of tension and surprising moments. The performances of both lead actors were captivating to watch and provided foundation for the unhinged plot.
The plot of Reed trying to kill a hooker only really serves as a framework to explore a murky dreamscape of Reed’s psyche and the mysterious intentions of Jackie. If you want a movie with a beginning, middle, and an end, you might have to settle for 2 out of 3. However, I can definitely say that Piercing was an enjoyable movie, and I can definitely recommend seeing it if you like art-house horror.
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Score for Piercing
Piercing balances psychological horror and dark comedy adeptly while maintaining a fresh yet familiar style.
Piercing Movie Spoilers
Stylistically, this film reminded me of several other directors’ work:
- Quentin Tarantino – The 70’s cool, yet time period ambiguous setting
- Wes Anderson – The use of miniatures and the matter-of-fact absurd comedy
- David Lynch – The surrealistic drug trips and dream logic
- Paul Thomas Anderson – Specifically Punch Drunk Love with the slightly twisted yet still somehow wholesome interaction between the leads.
Reed is an unreliable narrator and several times throughout the film, he is encouraged to go through with killing a prostitute. Those encouraging him in order are:
- His newborn baby
- The hotel clerk
- His wife
It is obvious that something is not right with Reed, and that he is at the very least a paranoid schizophrenic, and could also just as likely be dreaming.
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Dream logic abounds with strange actions and conversational non-sequiturs. Towards the end of the film when Reed is tying up Jackie, he does so in a impotent and lazy wrap of the rope only around her wrists.
Piercing starts out with small doses of hallucinations and slowly descends to full a full on bad trip with a little girl stabbing bunny. It’s a wild ride, but enjoyable if you like stylistic psychological horror.
This is a great movie for people that like foreign films but don’t want to read subtitles. That sounds sarcastic, but if you watch it (which I suggest you do) it will make sense.