In March of 2022, A24 released the horror film, X about a group of filmmakers who head to rural Texas in order to shoot porn. However, the farm they’re staying on is home to a murderous elderly couple – Pearl and Howard. Now, Pearl is the prequel to the film allowing us to dive a little deeper into the mind of a sociopath.
The Making of Pearl
When filming X, Directed/Writer by Ti West tried to convince A24 to film two movies at once. They were already building rural 1970s Texas in New Zealand. They might as well get a good bang for their buck. However, studio wasn’t convince. So, West reached out to Mia Goth about helping write a prequel for the current flims main villain. This would either turn out to be awesome or she’d just have incredible backstory for her character. After reading the script, the studio green-lit the film, and Pearl was set in motion.
Pearl is a young married girl whose husband is off to war. She’s trapped on her family’s isolated farm. She helps take care of her invalid father. While under the watchful eye of her overbearing mother. Pearl dreams of a more glamorous life. Dreaming of being one of the dancing girls in the movie. However, as the story goes along we learn that Pearl has a dark secret hidden inside.
MIA GOTH IS A STAR IN THE MAKING
Mia Goth is absolutely stunning in Pearl. She is effortlessly charming, drawing you into this sad world she lives in. Even when we begin to see the dark twistings of her mind. you somehow can’t help but feel empathy for her. After a string of dark events, she makes a confession to her sister-in-law in a heartwrenching one-take monologue. This moment in the film is where I knew Goth is destined for the dreams Pearl hopes for.
While this film is billed as a horror movie, I see it much more as a psychological thriller. Why does Pearl kill? The answer is simple. She’s a born psychopath. I appreciate that the film doesn’t go down a predictable lane that her wanting to kill comes from her father sexually assaulting her, or her mother being another Margaret White. Instead, she just is who she is. Her mother is overbearing because she knows exactly what her daughter is and she’s trying to protect others from her.
David Corenswet (Hollywood) as the projectionist plays the perfect “gentleman” turned prey. As a nod to X, we see him show Pearl her first silent movie Stag film. Outside of there, there are a couple of other easter egg moments, along with a stretch for a blonde joke that makes it into the film as well.
Full disclosure, I was not a fan of X for a multitude of reasons. However, I went into Pearl with an open mind hoping that it would give me everything I was missing in the other installment – not to mention, answer my many questions. Sadly, it didn’t. While Mia Goth and the rest of the cast are absolutely stellar, the film still feels drawn out and dull. The promise of gore is not followed through and it’s far from suspenseful. Instead, we get a really sad story about a girl who just needs mental help and the will to run away from her life.
I don’t love Ti West’s choice to make most kills off camera. We get one great moment and the rest we don’t get to see. Also, the film is paced rather slowly and ends where it feels like Act 2 should begin. While I understand there are a lot of people who enjoy these films, I’ve decided this series just isn’t for me.