A prequel to last year’s horror triumph X in which a demented old lady slaughters a group of people who came to her farm to film a porno, Pearl takes place in 1918 and shows the violent steps taken by this character in her pursuit of a life of fame beyond the farm.
Stylistically, Pearl is completely different to the slasher throwback that X was, instead harking back to the technicolour movies of the '30s - less The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, more The Wizard of Oz. Everything is colourful and vibrant, almost in direct contrast to the grisly events unfolding on screen, and the locations we recognise from X burst with new life.
Mia Goth reprises her role as a younger version of the murderous old lady from X and does some incredible things - things that performers are rarely asked to do nowadays, including an extended, uncut monologue that is Oscar-worthy. Like what her character aspires to be, Goth is truly a star, shifting between sweet, innocent (as the farmer’s daughter) and unhinged (as a killer).
Pearl will surely please fans of X, answering some lingering questions from that film but still leaving us wanting more (MaXXXine can’t come soon enough). That being said, if X didn’t already exist, it would be hard for audiences to muster up much interest in this random slow-burn of a slasher movie with relatively little slashing. Having seen X, however, Pearl is a film that rewards returning viewers and is clearly carefully planned out to work as a companion piece.
A very different type of movie to its predecessor, Pearl may not be as instantly engrossing to horror fans as the slasher homage that X was. But Mia Goth’s stunningly disturbed performance and the careful craftsmanship of director Ti West make Pearl a unique and unsettling horror movie that will leave audiences wanting more from this series.