Pearl (2022)

It seems like just yesterday I was singing the praises of Ti West’s “X” and now here comes PEARL, the prequel that reveals the foundation of horror that film is built on. PEARL is a truly singular experience and quite a sight to behold. It openly borrows from many a classic film before it (everything from THE WIZARD OF OZ (’39) to MULHOLLAND DRIVE (2001)) and yet feels just about as fresh and forward-bound as a film can be. Freakishly effervescent Mia Goth portrays the title character Pearl, a young girl with big dreams who is trapped on a farm taking care of her scowling deadweight parents, some standard livestock, and a friendly alligator with a big appetite. Feel free to place this lunatic character study right up there with the all-time greats (Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) Willard Stiles (Bruce Davidson & Crispin Glover) May (Angela Bettis), and maybe Iif I may be so bold) that crazy kid Jamie (Sammy Snyders) from THE PIT (’81) to name a mere few). West has never been more confident on a visual level (especially when it comes time to whip out the red hues) and there are more than a few scenes that I just can’t seem to shake from my head, try as I might.

On my way to see PEARL I got some worrisome news (it’s a long story, but suffice to say everything turned out as wretchedly as possible and my attempts to fix the troublesome situation failed miserably) and I have to say it really affected my viewing experience though I’m not sure for the better or worse. I do know that from the trailer of PEARL I was really expecting a hilariously morbid quirky romp but I ended up with so much more than I anticipated. Turns out PEARL is just so damn tragic that it began to actually pain me to watch it. Goth gives an incredible, for the ages lengthy monologue (while seemingly channeling the entire cast of THE SHINING (’81)) explaining her morose feelings, motivations, insecurities, and general psychotic history and it’s legit glorious but it’s also gut-wrenching to visit the depths of her delusions and self-hatred. I’m sure I was a bit over-sensitive at the time of my viewing but geez, I almost felt the urge to tap out before I too joined in her woeful sobs (seriously, it makes my depressing boo THE ATTIC (’80) look like XANADU (’80)). I loved it; Goth & West make an incredible team but ouch! I may have to watch GREASE 2 (’82) to recover my equilibrium.

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4 days ago

There seems to be some backlash to X. I thought it was okay but definitely didn’t love it.

Pearl, however, is a gem and Maxxxine has A LOT to live up to.

Pearl is also a case study in why there should be an award for end credits.

4 days ago

I loved, loved, loved X. I thought it was so much better than many other recent horror films, like Malignant, for example.

That being said, I’m sure Pearl is just as good, but, releasing it so soon after X might spoil the latter’s big casting surprise.

James Lewis
4 days ago

I loved this movie. I loved X. Can’t wait for MaXXXine. I enjoyed Ti West’s earlier films, but these are on a whole different level.

The camerawork in this film is wonderfully simple and self-assured. There’s no need to engage in crazy movements and dollies and what-not when you have an actress like Goth working. Keeping the camera still and not cutting away during that monologue was genius.

I felt like Mia Goth was channeling Sissy Spacek from Carrie. Her Texas twang was beautiful.

And those end credits! It was like a horror version of the Police Squad “freeze frame.”