Ti West’s Pearl — the prequel to his film X — is one of the best horror movies I have ever seen, especially due to Mia Goth’s phenomenal performance as Pearl. Goth also co-wrote and co-produced the film, which shows she is highly committed to her character and the story.
Pearl delves into the origin story of the titular character, who was also the main villain in X. Set in 1918 Texas, Pearl lives in a conservative, confined farmhouse with her strict mother and an ill father to aid. Pearl dreams of becoming a famous movie star one day; however, she goes through drastic measures in an attempt to achieve those dreams.
The two things about Pearl that never fail to make my nerves shake are the music and Mia Goth’s facial expressions. My heart drops whenever Goth puts on her creepy Joker-esque smile. Not to mention the credit scene when she makes that same smile up until the scene cuts to black.
Even the aesthetic of the cinematography is beautifully colorful and well-executed. It puts viewers into the time of 1918, bringing back the nostalgic feel of 1910s horror cinema.
Another aspect to mention that seems symbolic is Pearl’s certain costume choices. For example, her blue farm girl outfit symbolizes the innocence she had left before her murderous downfall. And notably, her red audition dress symbolizes the sheer madness she falls into after committing heinous crimes.
New viewers of Pearl should expect to see the tragic downfall of a young girl with big dreams. She’s unable to fulfill her dreams due to her festering inner demons and unsolved generational trauma led by her mother. This theme comes with showing how Pearl as a villain can be one to sympathize with despite how cruel and unforgivable her actions are.
Edited by: James Sutton