Written by: Ti West & Mia Goth
Starring: Mia Goth, David Corenswet, Tandi Wright, Matthew Sunderland, Emma Jenkins-Purro
We cannot choose where we are born and the circumstances we inherit, but our future remains in our hands, which is something the titular character of this feature very much believes. With nothing but hope for what she can accomplish and getting away from a life she despises, this little tale of a massive delusion of grandeur allows for some gnarly moments that set up a vicious character.
With her husband away at war, Pearl (Mia Goth) lives with her two parents and absolutely hates the experience. She dreams of being a movie star even if those around her do not believe she has what it takes. As the final slither of her dream begins to dissipate she proves she will stop at nothing to get the life she believes she deserves.
Serving as a surprise prequel to the very enjoyable X, this film seemingly came out of nowhere and it sought to give us the backstory of the murderous villain, Pearl. This feature wants to show us what turned her into the villain we see in X and how she once had dreams just like every young girl in the world. What we receive is a slow descent from mere dissatisfaction to something much darker and explains how Pearl got to murdering young people when she reaches a very old age.
This film presents the opposite perspective we typically receive in a slasher. In most instances, we see the story through the eyes of horny young individuals who get killed off by the mysterious figure. In this feature, we see this story through the eyes of the killer as we witness her slowly turn her optimism into a sinister persistence to live the life she wants and how she will stop at nothing to achieve it.
This fall from grace happens under the appearance of this being a young innocent woman, which allows this film to be a fascinating double feature with The Wizard of Oz in the style utilized and the two protagonists at the center. They certainly go in two separate directions with their lives, but they mirror each other in different ways while both including death, if you catch my drift. It starts with the idea of Pearl being this faithful wife waiting for her husband to get home as she hates she needs to listen to her mother and take care of a father who cannot complete simple daily activities. The draw of the life she could have makes her begin to do questionable actions and then it leads to murdering as one would expect with various different farming tools not meant for use in that way.
Nothing about the film can be described as surprising as we know what she will turn into but we’re just waiting to see what will be the inciting incident to completely set her off and just how much killing she manages to do in the story. These moments set up what became the truly defining feature of this film, which was Mia Goth’s incredible performance. She delivers so many instantly iconic lines in this film that do not feel like they would have worked with someone else at the helm. The scene where she insists she’s a star at an audition truly astounds in the sheer desperation of this young woman coming to the realization she will not reach the heights she initially wanted to, which then leads to the monologue of the decade so far as she shares everything she has done. It shows Mia Goth at a level I did not think was possible. Sure, she showed plenty of promise in other features but nothing like this. It all culminates in the final shot of the film, which disturbs and also astounds on how this film serves as a complete performance by this young star.
You know where it will eventually go, but Pearl entertains in the journey to the end we can all see coming. It allows Mia Goth to shine in a way I never thought she was capable of and serves as a wonderful companion piece to its preceding film. Ti West and Mia Goth have found incredible chemistry working together and with their plans to take this show on the road for a third go-around excites for what else they are able to conjure with these characters and this setting.