In what has to be the shortest turnaround for a sequel I’ve ever seen, Pearl serves as a prequel to a horror film that came out earlier this year called X. The Pearl we see there is an old, bitter woman with a malicious jealousy towards the young, sex-having adults that come to shoot a pornographic film on her farm. X is a pretty solid throwback to the grimy grindhouse days of slasher horror that you should certainly check out. I reviewed it earlier this year and maybe a pretty great drink called the Sex on the Farm you should definitely check out.
Pearl takes place about 50 years before X, where we’re introduced to a much younger, much more starry-eyed Pearl. She dreams of one day becoming a grand movie star, if she can ever leave her comatose father and her stone-hearted mother. But even all those years ago, Pearl had some dark tendencies, and if you thought she was ruthless in X…oh man, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
Pearl feels remarkably different from X in both its presentation and its approach to the horror this time around. While X’s inspirations obviously came from the gritty slasher films of the 70s and 80s, most noticeably The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Pearl’s aesthetic is inspired heavily by the golden age of classic Hollywood. The colors are bright and saturated to mimic the technicolor style popularized in the early 1900s, the music is produced by a fluttery orchestra, and of course, good old wipe cuts are back baby! It feels so different from X in such a great way, allowing it to have its own identity while making this one of the most unique pair of horror films to date.
Now, I’ve gotta talk about Mia Goth as Pearl, because holy hell. I’m not exaggerating when I say that she gives not only one of the best horror performances since Toni Collette in Hereditary, she gives one of the best performances of the year; period. She did an impressive job playing not one but two characters in X, but here she’s really allowed to delve deep into a broken character. She does a great job at selling that vintage film feel through both her dialogue and her appearance, as well as giving an increasingly unhinged performance as the film goes on. By the time we reach the climax, Goth is loud and aggressive, but she’s also given enough time to deliver an actually touching monologue, giving insight into the character’s awareness of the darkness inside of her that she’s unsure of how to fix. This is an impressive as all hell performance that I know will get no award season attention because the Academy is too old and pussyfooted for horror movies.
It’s pretty apparent that this film is much more of a character study with some horror elements rather than a full blown horror movie like X was. While this means less frequent and intense scares, it does deliver on some fairly disturbing imagery involving maggots, burning flesh and dismembered limbs. It certainly a deviation from the sex crazed insanity of X, which some viewers may find dissapointing. Being a prequel, it does kind of feel like an appetizer for those who are hungry for bloody kills and gratuitous nudity, which X more than delivers on. Yet this film is certainly a testament to director Ti West’s ability to craft a narrative that can show astute patience and attention to detail, not just the tried and true horror tropes. This is especially true considering the themes of loss of youth and the failure to achieve your dreams that failed to make a lasting impact in X are a lot heavier here. The film may go on for a bit longer than it needs to and the story does sometimes feel like it could have used another draft, but Mia Goth’s performance and Ti West’s directing absolutely make this a one of a kind horror film. And wouldn’t you freaking know it, we’re getting ANOTHER film to complete the trilogy. West truly deserves an award for one of the fastest turnarounds on a film trilogy in history. As well as a much needed vacation.
In short, I liked this a bit more than X.
Who doesn’t like a tall glass of lemonade in the summer? I know Pearl sure does. From this film to her murderous rampage in X, I have to imagine she’s been doing nothing but perfecting the simple, sugary drink all those decades on that farm. While I’d be skeptical of drinking anything that woman handed me, rest assured that the only crazy thing I’m putting in mine is a good amount of alcohol.
Pearl’s Lemonade contains down south ingredients like whiskey and a hint of orange, as well as some mint for some added crispness and ginger beer for a bit of a bite. And then to bring home the fact that Pearl is a maniac we are also going to be topping this off with a bit of blood. Rest assured, it’s not farm animal blood, but a float of ruby red sloe gin to give the drink an additional botanical flavor.
- 20z Whiskey
- 3oz Homemade lemonade
- 3/4oz Orange liqueur
- 5 Mint leaves
- Float: 1/2oz sloe gin
- Garnish: Mint spring
- Add ingredients to a shaker and shake with ice.
- Double strain into tall glass over ice.
- Float sloe gin on top.
- Garnish with mint leaves.