Film Review: “Pearl”


Screengrab from: "Pearl"

“Pearl” was released on Sept. 16 and was directed by Ti West. The film serves as a prequel to “X”, released earlier this year in March.

Sophia Sailer, Editor-in-Chief

“Pearl”, the prequel film to “X”, a movie I have not watched yet, shows the upbringing of a young woman named Pearl. This film is in the thriller and horror genre in a historical context as well. Pearl is imprisoned in her home due to the Spanish Flu. Residing in the United States, Pearl dreams of making it big in the movies and that dream is her guiding light in hopes of escaping isolation.

Mia Goth (popular from her roles in “Emma” and “A Cure for Wellness”) plays Pearl perfectly, showing a country girl who really feels like she has no way out but to go through. Pearl is already exposed to so much death in her life with very few experiences outside of it. Pearl has to kill each day due to chores and feed the alligator that lives in the body of water near her house, which foreshadows to Pearl baiting her father to feed that alligator towards the end.

Trauma and isolation can cause detrimental mental decline in the human psyche as we have seen during COVID-19, people were able to turn to streaming services and social media to entertain themselves, but Pearl has to bike all the way to the movies to entertain herself, which she is told not to do by her mother time and time again, even though it is her only escape.

Pearl’s mother was so petrified of the Spanish flu that she did not want Pearl to leave ever unless she allowed her to. This fear is a trauma response from what happened to her husband, (who has become paralyzed due to the Spanish flu). In turn this has a horrible effect on Pearl, who has no life outside of taking care of her father, pushing her towards insanity.

Pearl dances to distract herself, which her mother hates. Anything that Pearl does to make herself happy, her mother deems selfish and immoral. This categorization untethers Pearl from her mother, making her hate her mother more and more, eventually leading to Pearl snapping and killing her mother.

The character David Corenswet plays, the “Projector”. (I find it interesting that he doesn’t have a name according to IMDb). The Projector is strikingly attractive, and teaches Pearl about the film industry, as he is a projector. He shows Pearl illegal films of people having sex and nude women after one of the first days of meeting her. We never really get his backstory or really what he wants to do, only that he is going to Europe because of these films. Pearl is automatically taken by him, and he invites her to go to Europe with him, but unfortunately by the end, Pearl kills him because he is scared by what he has seen at Pearl’s house.

“Pearl” is a horror/thriller that follows Mia Goth’s character, Pearl, live a life of imprisonment due to the Spanish Flu. Pearl dreams of making it big in the movies and that dream is her guiding light in hopes of escaping isolation. (Screengrab from: “Pearl”)

“Pearl” leaves no loose ends, only a cliffhanger that, to my knowledge, leads into “X”. This film will shock and amaze, especially if you are into thrillers, this movie is the perfect fit.

As any A24 film, “Pearl” now ranks to be one of my favorite films not just in the thriller genre, but overall. The unique characteristics that A24 brings to the table topples any competition every time. I cannot wait to watch “X” and see where Pearl and Howard go from here.