Ti West, Mia Goth
David Corenswet, Mia Goth, Emma Jenkins-Purro
Rated: R for some strong violence, gore, strong sexual content and graphic nudity.
All media used courtesy of A24
A follow-up to this year’s “X” (also directed by Ti West and starring Mia Goth) Pearl is a young woman living on the outskirts of town with her rigid mother and immobile father. Taking place during the Spanish flu, Pearl spends most of her time tending to her family and the farm while waiting for her husband Howard to return from the war. Pearl aspires to be a dancer like in the pictures she’s seen, but with her restricted living, she’ll need to break away from her family to rise to stardom, but does she have the “X-Factor” to take her to fame?
“X” was a huge surprise this year and ranks in my top ten movies of 2022. I loved the story being set in the transition days of theaters to home video, what the film had to say on fame and the lengths people go to chase it, and what happens when your dreams don’t work out. That wrapped in a “Texas Chainsaw” bouquet of violence made the idea of a prequel so soon after seem cheap. Boy was I wrong.
“Pearl” is based on the old woman in “X”, and much like how “Better Call Saul” enhanced and rounded “Breaking Bad” into a perfect pairing, the same could be said with “Pearl”. I loved the parallels from the first film in the time they’re set in and in the main character’s motivations, while still feeling different. Pearl’s relationship with her parents is completely inhospitable and cold. That tension is the center point of the film. How can Pearl leave her family and find fame? There’s no good answer, and while it’s a little obvious, director Ti West expertly builds the moments to keep you engaged.
The performance given by Mia Goth is nothing short of awards-worthy. In the final act, she delivers a 5-minute monologue that if performed in any dramatic film without horror would be nominated for best actress. Mia being able to inhabit two similar characters from different generations and make them feel so similar but unique is fascinating to watch. There are rumors a third film is on the way, and I cannot wait to see what she’ll be able to do in the next installment.
Overall, “Pearl” is a fantastic prequel to the “X” (trilogy?) saga. Both films deliver some of the best horror of 2022, and is a MUST-WATCH for anyone wanting to get into the fall spooky season.