review by Bobby Blakey
Ti West has had some interesting flicks in his career including House of the Devil, The Innkeepers and Sacrament to name a few. In March of this year his film X was unleashed on fans and racked up some critical acclaim. Apparently West and his X star Mia Goth reteamed to shoot a prequel back to back to the original film titled Pearl. The film co-stars David Corenswet, Tandi Wright, Matthew Sunderland, and Emma Jenkins-Purro, but does it bring more of what made the original gory fun or will it be a story not worth telling?
Pearl follows Pearl who must tend to her ailing father under the bitter and overbearing watch of her devout mother while trapped on her family’s isolated farm. Lusting for a glamorous life like she’s seen in the movies, Pearl’s ambitions, temptations, and repressions all collide, in the stunning, technicolor-inspired origin story of X’s iconic villain.
So for those that somehow missed it Mia Goth was not only the lead, Maxine in the X, but also played the part of the old woman Pearl, but completely unrecognizable. Now she is back to play once again in a film that while connected as an origin story is a completely different animal in the best way possible. The idea is really the same, but told in a fresh way that makes you feel like you are on a new journey which you are in every way.
West has crafted a film that really stands out once again in a way that might hit different with everyone. Yes there is some expected kills and gore, but doesn’t play up as a slasher-esque film like X did. This is a girls journey and unraveling allowing it to be more of a character study to understand the old version and where she came from from X and Goth is outstanding here.
It is a bit slow paced at times by design I believe to really make the audience feel the isolation Pearl feels on this farm and in her life. When she journeys out we are all excited to get some refreshing new visuals and characters, but also eager to return to see what madness is sure to come. There are so many great visual elements in costumes, camera work and moments that play up like a homage to the original, but could also play up the opposite direction depending on the order you watch them.
Everyone is great here, but this is Goth’s show and she kills it. She flows through numerous emotions throughout the film as a character you really sympathize with, but also know there is something more sinister there waiting to emerge. The biggest and most impressive moment isn’t a kill, but a monologue from Goth that reveals everything you need to know about Pearl, her past, future and everything in between. She acts the shit out of that sequence and is mesmerizing. The whole scene is just a close up on her face and you will not be able to look away.
More often than not when they dive into a prequel to a character it never really lives up to its original, but here I think it does that and more. Yes it is a different kind of film so not fully comparable in my opinion, but that is what made it so great. West and Goth clearly love the characters of Pearl and Maxine (from X) and their passion shines through here. Not only does this film stand on its own as a great film it further enhances the already greatness of X and I cannot wait to see what’s to come from this hopeful franchise.
Be sure to stick through the credits for an additional scene that will no doubt have fans excited.
In addition to the film this release offers up bonus content including trailers and featurettes. Grab your copy of Pearl available now on digital, Blu-ray and DVD from Lionsgate and A24.