Have you ever felt like although you’re watching something terribly ominous you can’t seem to look away? Riddled with anxiety but so curious to know what’s going on? This is how I felt watching Pearl by Ti West. This post-modern horror/slasher film is a prequel for the film X which came out in March of 2022. This is the perfect movie to watch as the Halloween season approaches. West is in his prime as he is one of the best current horror genre filmmakers. The movie Pearl answers questions that viewers may have had and parallels scenes shot in X. Even if you haven’t seen X, these movies work astronomically well separately the same as together, however, seeing the previous movie adds all the more depth. Where X pays tribute to the 70s slasher era as well as pornography industry that sells the “American dream,” Pearl takes place five decades before in 1918.
This film tells a story of a young girl, Mia Goth who plays Pearl, who appears to have serious pitch fork issues (pun intended) going crazy from isolation. She has big dreams of becoming a star yet is stuck with her family’s depressing farm life. Between her father being wheelchair bound and her mother being a German immigrant who comes across as cold and unforgiving, Pearl feels trapped. Her dream was to dance in a choir, just like she had seen the women in the movies. When Pearl thinks she finally has a chance due to an attractive man who runs screenings at the local theater, she jumps at the invitation. When she realizes things weren’t as they seemed. A fire sparked in her and she took matters into her own hands–with an axe that is. This incident kicked off a sinister turn in Pearl not allowing anyone to get in the way of what she’d dreamed of.
The film appears to begin with an odd tribute to The Wizard of Oz but becomes an eerie experience that’ll make you drop the popcorn and watch the screen in awe. The deliberate melodic movements Pearl does, rather than just random jump-scares, are sure to make you feel uneasy, which makes the film all that much better. They’ve already announced the third movie entitled MaXXXine, so make sure to countdown until then, I sure am.
By Jay Bryant