I initially took note of Piercing as it was produced by a group of filmmakers I’ve been following: Sean Durkin, Antonio Campos and Josh Mond of Borderline Films. It’s directed by Nicolas Pesce, whose horror film—The Eyes of My Mother—premiered at Sundance a few years ago. Traditional horror films aren’t usually my thing so I wasn’t sure what to expect from this film going into it.
The film was inspired by Japanese Horror films like those of Takashi Miike. The novel Piercing is based on is by author Ryū Murakami who also wrote Audition which was adapted into a Takashi Miike film. That’s the connection between this director wanting to direct this source material. I wouldn’t say the film goes as far as “torture porn,” but it was violent and uncomfortable to watch.
In the start, the film establishes some dark comedy aspects. There is an excellent scene of Christopher Abbott’s character hesitantly miming out his murder plan by himself while sound effects of his actual actions ground the scene. The set design also has this interesting quirky, thin, and feel intentionally fake style similar to a Wes Anderson film.
While I thought this was an interesting movie, it’s not something I plan to revisit. I have similar thoughts about the film Only God Forgives which is by another director I follow closely. Both are just too violent and discomforting.
— Sundance 2018