Director – Ti West (X, The Innkeepers)
Starring – Mia Goth (X, Suspiria), David Corenswet (The Politician, We Own This City), and Tandi Wright (Love and Monsters, Jack the Giant Slayer)
Release Date – 2022
Rating – 3/5
Earlier in the year I watched Ti West’s X and fell in love. While some were quick to compare it to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, I found it to be much more than that. The TCM inspiration is clearly visible but the film has a lot more to offer the viewer than just another southern family butchering and eating people. In fact, it reminded me of a horror film that was inspired by a fan of sexploitation and hixploitation flicks. It’s easily my favorite film of the year and quickly climbed it my top ten all time favorite flicks.
Not long after I reviewed X I was sent the press release for the prequel Pearl once again starring Mia Goth as a young Pearl many years before the events of X. I knew this was one I had to see but with a full-time job, three children, and a wife that doesn’t like horror I wasn’t able to check it out in theaters. However, as soon as I saw the press release for the physical release pop up in my inbox, I had to quickly reach out for a review copy. I’ve had a copy for a couple weeks, but I wanted to wait until I had enough time to watch X again before diving in.
**Spoiler Alert** The film follows Pearl who is a young woman living with her overbearing German mother and her invalid father while her husband is away fighting in World War I. They live on a small farm and struggle to stay afloat while the war wages on and the Spanish flu but she makes do. Pearl is not like most girls and liked to kill animals that are smaller than her. Whenever something small wonders onto her farm she is quick to snuff it out and feed to the gator living in the pond near her farm. When she’s not murdering livestock, she’s dreaming of becoming a star with aspirations of being a famous dancer. However, her mother doesn’t support her dreams and when she stands in her way, she finds her inner killer coming out. **Spoiler Alert**
I’ll be completely transparent with you. As much as I loved X, Pearl is nowhere near as wild and enjoyable. In fact, it was a bit of a disappointment. I liked it but it’s so much weaker than X and just didn’t deliver the same wild and raunchy story as the first film. Please don’t get the wrong idea because I actually liked the film but it’s not on the same level of intensity and story as X.
The acting in this one is just as good, if not better, than X but the characters are not as colorful or memorable. Mia Goth is fantastic as Pearl and no one else could have portrayed that character like she did. Pearl has a bit more personality and on-screen presence than her other character in X. I know she was the elderly Pearl as well but the different character she portrayed was a bit of a wallflower compared to Pearl in this film. The rest of the cast is great as well but the bold personalities and characters that really stand out are absent here. The cast does a great job with the characters they were written but the fun performances are nowhere to be seen.
The story for this one is a fantastic look at a character that doesn’t really get enough character development in X which makes sense considering they filmed both films back to back with that in mind. I loved seeing how she came to be so unhinged and her husband covering for her. I know a sequel is in the works the further tells her murderous youth but I wish we had a little bit more to this story than what we actually got. It’s fun and highly enjoyable but it feels held back more than X did.
Finally, the film has some great on screen deaths and one impressive dismemberment scene. The practical effects look phenomenal but I was expecting a little more gore with the deaths than what we actually got. Overall, Pearl is not X and is nowhere near as memorable but it’s still one of the better horror films of the year. I highly recommend it especially after you watch X.