Piercing (Giallo Sadomasochist Thriller)

 

Piercing is a bizarre psychological thriller from writer-director Nicolas Pesce, which also doubles up as a dark, fucked-up rom-com that spreads giallo everywhere. Two negatives don’t make a positive, but two nuts create a violent and bloody mess, with lots of yellow. Reed is a family man with an awkward, timid nature, who harbors a desire to kill. So he books an S&M escort with the intention of killing her with a symbolic ice pick. The escort Jackie doesn’t succumb as expected, however, her scattered mind suggesting she forgot the safe word on more than one occasion, but also has her own desires. Not a girl to take home, perhaps, but when she says “I want you to wear my skin” she becomes a keeper.

 
 

Apart from the use of split screen and a surreal dream sequence, the visual style of Piercing is simple. Environments remain neutral, so the focus is on the interactions between characters, with uncertain tensions building as it questions whose in control.  These moments are derailed by twists, dark humor and unexpected eruptions of extreme violence that embellish the sadomasochistic undercurrent. Plus it adds a 70s-style score for playful contrast and tons of giallo references. A scene in which Reed methodically acts out his plan works particularly well, as he mimes the actions of how he plans to kill and decapitate his target. In a clever moment we get into his mind, even hearing the imagined sound effects as he pantomimes draining Jackie's blood and sawing through her bones. Piercing is a deep, dark, and character-driven story about obsession and desire that transforms the viewer into a sex pain junky far more effectively than mainstream trash. And it does it in beautiful yellow. You probably don't get that yet, so look it up.

 

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Written by Phil the Reviler

Piercing (2018/2019)
Nicolas Pesce (director), Greenwich Entertainment, Universal Pictures (distributors)
4.5 / 5