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Fantastic Fest ‘18 Interview Nicolas Pesce: Adapting Murakami’s “PIERCING” for Screen

Tuesday, September 25, 2018 | Interviews


Note: This is an excerpt from a longer interview, which will be made available when PIERCING is released in December.

Nicolas Pesce’s second film PIERCING feels like a continuation of his singular voice as a filmmaker, however, there was an external inspiration for this one. An adaptation of Ryû Murakami’s novel of the same name, the film brings the Japanese story to New York city, and hones the greater tale into a manageable and swift film. We sat down with Pesce at Fantastic Fest to discuss adapting the novel for screen.

Did you read the novel PIERCING and want to adapt it, or did someone come to you with the project?
I read the book while I was making EYES OF MY MOTHER and loved it. I felt like it had a lot of DNA that I really liked. I had the opportunity to do something with it that is still in my wheelhouse but totally different than EYES. It felt so ready to be a movie. Murakami has a big love of western thriller cinema. He’s a Japanese author, and this is his version of BASIC INSTINCT, and it has all of these cinematic sensibilities baked into it. The investor who paid for EYES OF MY MOTHER got me the rights to the book, and we were off.

There are so many similar themes in both films, in terms of twisted female empowerment and body horror. Was it an odd experience reading that book while making your first film?
Yeah. At the heart of it, it is about these people who spend a lot of time by themselves, thinking about weird dark shit. I often feel that’s what I do as a filmmaker. Especially when writing, you are just by yourself thinking about weird dark shit. It felt like there were these connections between EYES and PIERCING. What it takes for someone to want to kill someone. But baked into the DNA of the story is a way more colorful world, with a weird sense of humor. That was something I didn’t get to do as much with EYES OF MY MOTHER was play with a jet black sense of humor. What I love in a lot of Japanese horror films and gener film is this weird tongue in cheek quality to them, and I wanted to play around with that.

Deirdre is a Chicago-based film critic and life-long horror fan. In addition to writing for RUE MORGUE, she also contributes to C-Ville Weekly,, and belongs to the Chicago Film Critics Association. She's got two black cats and wrote her Master's thesis on George Romero.