Everyone wants to feel special. Everyone wants to be loved. Every single person just wants to be seen for what they believe they are. Sometimes there’s something dark below all of that want. Pearl is a film that puts that darkness and yearning in the spotlight to tell a twisted tale of trying to “make it”. Ti West and Mia Goth made lightning strike twice with Pearl being so close on the heels of X.
This time the story takes us further back into the life of the first films antagonist, Pearl. The same farm we see in X is the one where most of this story takes place as well. It’s a story of isolation and of this girl who wants anything but. Pearl wants to be a star during the golden age of Hollywood where the film takes its aesthetics from. All of those things that Pearl has bottled up her entire life come crashing down in the film with her need for stardom, sexual urges, and dark intentions bubbling over into a beautiful slow burn horror film.
Once that slow burn finally reaches the end of the rope, it hits the box of dynamite to some of the best performances in any horror movie. Mia Goth deserves an Oscar nomination for some of the scenes in this film. At one moment, the audience almost feels bad for this slasher who just wants to be free of the old family farm. Judy Garland’s Dorothy got to go to Oz, why can’t Mia Goth’s Pearl go to Hollywood? Well, Dorothy didn’t open her film with imapling a small animal but that’s neither here nor there. Without getting into spoilers, there is a scene where Mia Goth gives a monologue that just confesses everything she’s ever done. She simply talks out loud and you watch as every single emotion a human can feel is painted on screen as she wears a vibrant red dress. It’s a harrowing scene that pushes her performance to an unforgettable level. Mia Goth’s Pearl is the only modern day slasher I recognize. She gives a better performance than I’ve ever seen in a horror film.
The scrip was co-written by Ti West and Mia Goth with brilliant dialogue, a story that unfolds slowly before unraveling like a sleeve of firecrackers, and characters who you crave to know more about. West’s directional style is on full display here with flurries of charismatic genius with the use of golden age Hollywood aesthetics that the story twists into it’s dark world. There are some truly unforgettable shots through the film with some being as simple as a cornfield but there is one of Pearl finding her place on stage in her red dress that lingers in my mind now. The kills of the film are graphic and heart pounding with framing and track shots that will make your eyes bulge from your head hoping that what is about to transpire isn’t going to transpire. The film makes you want the best for the main character but you know that isn’t what’s coming.
There is one sequence that West edits with some very interesting mirror effects and Goth’s character Carrie’s out her darkest deeds that made me lean back in my seat and let out a “wow”. They aren’t like any other edits in the film but they feel so at home for the moment.
Don’t worry that I haven’t mentioned how horny this movie is like I focused on in my X review. You already know it was going to be an erotic roller coaster. There is a sex scene in this film that channels one of the biggest characters in the first technicolor motion picture. After you see it, you’ll be saying “how’s that for paying homage to the greats?” But really, the character has been sheltered for so long that she’s finally taking the chance to express herself in her own violent delights and all sorts of whims.
X was only just released this year so Pearl coming a few months later felt like a one two punch from Ti West and Mia Goth. It’s a horror film that pushes boundaries but never loses its heart or it’s hard on for sex and violence. I’ve got a strong feeling that these two films will be a double feature masterpiece for years to come… unlike the sequel MaXXXine arrives.
If you leave before the credit sequence is over, you deserve whatever hardships come to you in life.