Pearl is a prequel to the horror film X, which was released earlier this year. The titular Pearl (Mia Goth) is a small-town farm girl who feels stuck in her life. She wants to become a movie star but is stifled from following her dreams by her mother (Tandi Wright) until she finally reaches her breaking point.
First and foremost I must commend the performance by Mia Goth here. She truly carries the film and shines as its star. You feel bad for Pearl’s situation, but it is very clear that there is something wrong with her. Pearl, in my mind, has become an iconic slasher villain and is one who has some actual character depth.
The film takes place in 1918, towards the end of World War I with the Spanish Influenza raging rampant around the world. Pearl is a girl with big dreams. She has no friends, her husband is away at war, she has a strict overbearing mother, and her father is deathly ill. Because of this, her closest friends are the farm animals she cares for and she frequently talks to them, much in the same vein as a Disney princess. She loves the pictures, which during this time often show women dancing around, which gives them an air of freedom. She yearns for that and tries to model herself like them since they appear to be “perfect,” but as we all know nobody is perfect. And Pearl is certainly not.
I enjoyed X fine, but I wasn’t blown away by it. X is a film where a group of indie filmmakers rents a farm from an elderly couple to secretly film a porno. X is a film that touts sexual liberty, but it still wants you to feel repulsed at the concept that elderly people have sex. However, something I didn’t realize until after seeing Pearl is that Mia Goth also played the old woman in X.
Despite being more lukewarm on X, I really enjoyed Pearl. The colors are overly saturated, which gives the film a sort of twisted Wizard of Oz feel. And the nice thing about this prequel is that you don’t need to have seen X to enjoy Pearl. In fact, Pearl actually enhances X since we have more backstory about the villain.
Ti West is the director of both X and Pearl. And he recently announced a sequel to X called MaXXXine that Mia Goth will return to star in. I am finding myself very eager to see the end of this trilogy. Since MaXXXine should focus on that character, I’m hoping the film is more like Pearl which is a character-driven story rather than an ensemble piece like X.
Pearl is my favorite horror film of 2022 so far and may end up being one of my favorite films of this year. It not only is a character-driven film, but it also subtly critiques the Hollywood aura that presents everything as perfect. I would encourage all horror fans to go see this film in the theater because Pearl is a fun, brightly-colored, and bloody-filled time.
I give Pearl an A-