We all remember way back in March, there was a new horror film from director Ti West called X. It was about a group of filmmakers who go to a farm to film a porno movie. Instead, they get attacked by an old woman who is jealous of them. Pearl is the sequel to that film and nobody knew it was in development except the filmmakers, actors, and studio A24. I for one am glad we got this prequel because it’s another win for the horror genre and Ti West.
Pearl (Mia Goth) is a young woman in the late 1910s who lives on a farm with her German-speaking mother Ruth (Tandi Wright) and her paraplegic father. Her husband Howard has gone off to WWI to fight for his country. Pearl is dead set on becoming a star and she will do whatever it takes to leave this farm and go to Europe to become a dancer or just get out of this situation she’s in at all costs. The problem is nobody else sees what she sees in herself and it gets on her nerves.
Goth has played this character before in X so she knows the motivations of who this woman is. Playing Pearl as a younger woman has different permutations than playing her as an older woman. She has to show the audience how she gets from point A to point Z in the character’s story. Ti West collaborated with Goth on this journey and it’s quite a disturbing journey at that. Goth gives an awards-worthy turn this time around as Pearl whereas in X she was just out for blood.
Going back to the late 1910s is a bit ironic to me because that’s the last time when we had a pandemic in our country and the world. This film was also filmed in secret during a pandemic by West and company. That was an interesting aspect of this film because this prequel was set perfectly during this era. Pearl as a younger woman was disillusioned about who she was meant to be. This shows why she ends up the disgruntled old woman in X. The dichotomy between these two films was brilliant.
This film was a minimalist production due to the pandemic in which it was made, but it wasn’t a detriment to the overall production. It may have actually made the film better in a sense. Fewer characters made West focus his lens more on Goth which in turn made her give a much better performance. She uses her adept acting skills to show all her sides. The Innocent side is where she shows love for her animals and the vicious side is where her jealousies come full circle. Goth shows her range with perfection in this prequel to X. And maybe a performance that gets noticed by fans and critics alike.
Pearl is the film we never knew we wanted until we got it. If it weren’t for the pandemic we may have never got it and the story in the film fits the scenery of the situation in which we got it. West doubles down on his star from X and it was a great decision on his part to go with Goth again in this prequel. She gives the performance of her career as the same character she played in X but a lot younger. A long monologue shows how good she is as Pearl and it’s one of the best scenes in the film. This film might be a tad better overall though than X but you can’t go wrong with either film from West and company.
Dan Skip Allen