Designed to be imaginative and dark, Piercing is a well-written thriller with a worthwhile ending.
Piercing is an odd, dark but wonderful film, directed with the aim to glorify the sinful thoughts of the central character. Weirdly enough, the film is directed in such a brilliant way that you can imagine the orderly way that the killer conducts himself. The story follows a quiet, nervous-looking man named Reed (Christopher Abbott). In the opening scene, he finds himself pointing a sharp object at his innocent newborn baby. As his wife calls him to bed, he reverts back to normalcy, retreating the weapon.
The story moves swiftly to Reed going away for “work” but what he is doing is planning to kill an unsuspecting prostitute. I believe with certainty that the writers envision this character to have serial killer tendencies, so much so that he has to resist killing his close ones; instead of filling himself with pain and regret, he decides to enjoy just the regret by killing someone he barely knows with a certain level of disrespect.
Director Nicolas Pesce pulls off the story of Piercing with an impressive imagination. The landmark sequence comes before Reed meets the prostitute, and he plans his entire night in his hotel room; how he greets her, pours her a drink, gets her to the hotel bedroom, and how he kills her. But what drives the story further is the prostitute, played just as carefully by Mia Wasikowska; her character is purposefully hard to read.
As the story moves forward, you are witnessing a story where a man with specific fantasies has met a wild card, not knowing how to handle his choreographed situation. Piercing shocks you when necessary to snap you back into the reality of the story but then sways into periods of odd silences and misplaced dialogue to throw you off guard. Piercing provides visible shocks, but also significant surprises in a fitting 81-minute feature.
How you react to Piercing will be dependent on your tastes. The latter stages drive into a place of feeling trippy, almost like the director decided it had become a different movie. If you hold on, the end scene is worth the time.
Daniel Hart is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has operated as Editor-in-Chief since 2017.