In the Sundance-screened horror film Piercing (out Feb. 1), Christopher Abbott (Girls, First Man) plays supposed family man Reed who hires a sex-worker named Jackie, portrayed by Mia Wasikowska (Crimson Peak), with the intent of killing her in his hotel room.

“Reed is a new father and the movie opens with him standing over his baby with an ice pick,” says writer-director Nicolas Pesce. “In order to quench this thirst to harm his child he decides that he is going to murder someone else. He plans what he thinks is the perfect murder. When his supposed victim shows up, he realizes that his plan is not going to go how he had hoped. It becomes this weird cat-and-mouse game of, ‘Who’s tricking who?'”

While that may sound like nerve-shredding material, Pesce insists Piercing is actually a lot more light-hearted than his previous film, the black-and-white terror tale The Eyes of My Mother.

“The one thing that I didn’t get to showcase of myself as a filmmaker in that movie was my weird sense of humor and playfulness,” says the filmmaker, who is currently working on a new film in the Grudge franchise. “I very consciously wanted to make a counterpoint to Eyes that was literally more colorful but also more playful and fun.”

Piercing is released in theaters, On Demand, and via Digital HD, Feb. 1. Watch an exclusive clip from the film above.

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