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If you saw Takashi Miike’s 1999 film Audition (based on a novel by Ryū Murakami) and enjoyed its sadomasochistic mind games and bizarre violence, then get out the gimp suit and the rubbing alcohol and get ready for Piercing, an adaptation, this time in English, of another sick-puppy concoction from Murakami. This one also features men with twisted misogynist desires who come up against a young woman who isn’t quite what she seems. It’s like some infernal cinematic machine designed to generate a rarefied kind of aesthetic nausea, fascinating but also a little morally dubious.
Christopher Abbott (Girls, James White) stars as Reed, a new father who kisses his wife (Laia Costa) and baby daughter goodbye and goes off – supposedly – on a business trip. What he’s really plotting to do is hire an escort, bring her to his hotel room and then murder her, a plan he acts out in mime in advance, imagining in his head the sounds of limbs being dismembered and blood spurting, all the while keeping a face entirely lacking in expression except for the bulging, angry forehead vein. But the escort who arrives is not the girl he originally chose. Instead, Jackie (Mia Wasikowska) shows up in a fur coat the size of a slaughtered yeti and from there on nothing goes as planned. To reveal more would spoil the fun, if mutilation with an ice pick and the like is your kind of fun.
Director Nicolas Pesce, once a pop video helmer whose last film was the similarly outre arthouse horror exercise The Eyes of My Mother, is inspired here by Italian giallo films of the 70s, those lurid but insidiously disturbing thriller-horror-sexploitation flicks by the likes of Dario Argento and Mario Bava that suddenly all the cool kids are glomming on to. (See, for instance, Luca Guadagnino’s remake of Argento’s Suspiria or Peter Strickland’s giallo pastiche The Duke of Burgundy.) Mimicking the genre’s use of split screens, tacky curvy graphics and gore, while also actively recycling choice soundtrack cuts from key giallo classics, Pesce channels the louche sensibility of the genre for this study of perverse desire perverted from its course.
It all works pretty well until the abrupt ending lets all the air out of the balloon. The dream-team pairing of Abbott and Wasikowska, two of the most interesting, subtle and risk-loving performers of their generation, is a huge compensation.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Piercing review – perverse desires perverted | Horror films