Piercing is an indie horror thriller and yet entirely in its own category. It’s both mind-boggling and breathtaking so prepare to be thrown for a loop once or twice. Screened at CPH PIX 2018 and coming to AFI Fest.

Piercing starts out, like many other movies, by listing the names of actors starring in it. However, after the names of the three primary actors, something happens. The fourth name is neither an actor nor the director or writer.

No, the fourth name is the person in charge of “prosthetics”. And that should be your first clue that you’re in for something different. It’s basically telling you up-front that one of the stars in Piercing is the prosthetics work. And it’s absolutely correct!

Full of surprises

If I should state one thing as defining of Piercing then it’s the element of surprise. Both for the characters in the story and to the audience watching the story unfold. Just when you think you’ve got it pegged, something comes out of left wing.

And yes, that whole prosthetics element does play a rather large part in many surprises.

But – and this is important – the effects are very realistic. This obviously lends a very raw and brutal edge to the tone. Something the characters reflect perfectly with their reactions.

To give just a bit of a teaser spoiler, let me say this; I would never have chosen a can-opener as my weapon of choice. And if I did, I certainly wouldn’t have used it as the weapon-wielder does.

Still, I cannot deny the sheer effectiveness of it. Just as I can’t deny the overall impact of Piercing.

Piercing (2018) thriller review

Absolutely brilliant cast

Even though Piercing officially has three primary actors, most of the story involves only two of them. These two are Christopher Abbott and Mia Wasikowska. The third actor is Laia Costa, who only appears in a few scenes.

All three are pretty damn fantastic, but this movie is all about Christopher Abbott and Mia Wasikowska.

Christopher Abbott also starred in It Comes at Night and season 1 of The Sinner. He played supporting characters in both of those productions, but Piercing is very much his story. And he can easily carry it!

Also readOur review of It Comes at Night right here >

Mia Wasikowska speaks with her own Australian dialect in this movie. Or actually, she starts out with a different accent, since we need to scratch the surface a bit to get that far.

Most probably know Mia Wasikowska from her title role in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland (2010). To me, she’s really come into her own with her starring roles in Chan-wook Park’s Stoker (2013) and Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak (2015).

Remember this name: Nicolas Pesce

Piercing was both written and directed by Nicolas Pesce. His black-white movie The Eyes of My Mother was a huge hit with critics and film fans. It received nominations at a whole slew of film festivals all over the world.

While Pesce did write the screenplay for Piercing, the story is based on a novel by Ryû Murakami. If you’re a fan of Japanese horror, this name should ring a bell. He also wrote the book that the infamous Audition (org. title Ôdishon) from 1999 was based on.

Nicolas Pesce is a filmmaker who doesn’t shy away from giving that extra edge to his movies. And yes, Piercing is a very good example of just that. His tone and style is sharp and consistent which I can only admire.

His next project is somewhat surprising though. He will be making a reboot of Grudge. And yes, it is yet another version of the Japanese horror movie Ju-On (2002). An English-language version was made in 2004 with the title The Grudge, but get ready for a new one.

Piercing is currently playing at film festivals worldwide. We caught a screening at CPH PIX 2018 in Denmark, and it will also be screening at AFI [American Film Institute] Fest in November 2018.

Update: Piercing will be released on Blu-ray and DVD on March 12, 2019. It will also be released on Netflix in the US on November 1, 2020.


Director: Nicolas Pesce
Writer: Nicolas Pesce (based on a novel by Ryû Murakami)
Cast: Christopher Abbott, Mia Wasikowska, Olivia Bond, Laia Costa, Wendell Pierce


A man kisses his wife and baby goodbye and seemingly heads away on business, with a plan to check into a hotel, call an escort service, and kill an unsuspecting prostitute.

I write reviews and recaps on Heaven of Horror. And yes, it does happen that I find myself screaming, when watching a good horror movie. I love psychological horror, survival horror and kick-ass women. Also, I have a huge soft spot for a good horror-comedy. Oh yeah, and I absolutely HATE when animals are harmed in movies, so I will immediately think less of any movie, where animals are harmed for entertainment (even if the animals are just really good actors). Fortunately, horror doesn't use this nearly as much as comedy. And people assume horror lovers are the messed up ones. Go figure!
Karina "ScreamQueen" Adelgaard