Pearl (Mia Goth) isn’t herself, and she has no idea what the problem is. She’s too rigid to change her behaviour, such as when she dances atop a haystack while holding a pitchfork or when she secretly kills animals. She longs to leave her Texas farm of 1918 behind and find the kind of love that comes with becoming an actor, a persona that can let you hide your actual identity. The fact that she once impaled a duck on a pitchfork and served it to her closest buddy.
Those who liked Ti West’s X, a 2022 horror film, would want to check out his newest, Pearl, which is a far different animal but is also highly recommended. To those who aren’t acquainted with X, Pearl may appear like a half-baked story that goes nowhere and accomplishes nothing, other than maybe illustrating the emotional breakdown of a young lady who fails to achieve her lifelong ambition of being a showgirl. Pearl is intended as a supplement to X, delving into the villain’s backstory from that game, and only functions properly when played alongside it. It wasn’t made to stand alone, and it wouldn’t work if it were. Although there are some entertaining sequences, a healthy dose of bleak humor, and several references to classic films, the film is generally more subdued.
Mia Goth, who previously portrayed Maxine and older Pearl and cowrote the screenplay, is back for more. Pearl, a young lady whose husband has gone out to fight in World War I, lives in 1918. The farm in Germany where her folks live is her current location. Her mother is a harsh, dominating person, and her father is dying. Since the flu epidemic has spread, Pearl is effectively isolated. She acts on her wackiest impulses because she’s bored, lonely, and isolated, like having an intimate experience with a scarecrow in the field.
Timeline-wise, the film takes place in 1918, or around 60 years before the events of X. Goth Pearl is the recently wed daughter of German emigrants. While her husband, Howard (Alistair Sewell), is away at war, she helps out on the farm by doing chores and taking care of her crippled father with her mother, Ruth (Tandi Wright) (Matthew Sunderland). Pearl and her mother have serious issues communicating with one another. She has always wanted to be a dancer and hopes that leaving the farm would help her achieve that goal. Her mother thinks such daydreams are useless and illogical. A woman’s rebellious streak is fueled by tension with her mother. After becoming involved with the theater’s projectionist (David Corenswet), she plots to sneak out of the house and join her sister-in-law, Misty, for a chorus line tryout against their mother’s wishes (Emma Jenkins-Purro). While this is going on, a shadowy force is taking shape in Pearl’s mind, an ugly force that will become murderous when she is pushed too far. This is hardly a spoiler; we already know about her history of murder thanks to X. Furthermore, the massive crocodile makes a cameo or two.
Pearl, for what it is, is a solid addition to X’s supporting cast. This character’s motivations for her actions in the ’70s plot are now clearer. We understand where her aggressive nature came from and why she was so easily angered by those obnoxious would-be pornographers. Again, the character’s backstory is unlikely to pique your attention if you haven’t seen the first film. If you did, you’ll enjoy Ti West’s fascinating look into the past of his renowned villain.
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