‘Pearl’: Mia Goth Shines in Bloody Technicolor


“Pearl” (Courtesy A24)

By Heather Hopkins

Seeing in Technicolor

In his newest film “Pearl,” filmmaker Ti West gives movie-goers the closest gift he can to the awe that was experienced by viewers of 1939’s  “The Wizard of Oz.” As we watched Dorothy step out of her newly relocated home, she stepped from muted sepia tones into the wonder of technicolor.

That vibrant cinematography is replicated here in “Pearl,” a horror villain origin story and prequel for West’s film “X.” West is clearly concerned with not only recreating the feeling of the 1918 time period, but capturing the cinematic feeling of movies made in that era as well. Details from the score of the film to the manner in which the shots were captured all allow viewers to lean into the reality being presented. This is something viewers have come to expect from West, as it was something he achieved in “X,” a nostalgic throwback to 1970’s classic slashers like “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.”

It is unnecessary for your understanding or enjoyment of the film to watch “X” before watching “Pearl.” In “X,” Pearl is an elderly woman and mass-murderer. In “Pearl,” we receive the story of how Pearl the woman came to be that way. 

Oh My Goth

“Pearl” is a story of neglect, rejection and longing for more. Pearl is a young woman living on a farm with her emotionally distant mother and infirm father while her husband is off fighting in World War I during the time of the Spanish Flu. The film takes us through Pearl’s hardships, many of which are relatable. That is, until she begins to take out her frustrations in a murderous manner. Even so, Mia Goth plays the role with such depth that you can’t help but empathize with her, likely due to the fact that Goth had a hand in writing and producing the role.

Some Guts, Some Gore

Goth shines as bright as the horror scenes throughout the film. That’s right: the majority of the gore is shot in broad daylight, setting this film apart from others in its genre. While bloody at times, the film really isn’t all guts and gore. It is much more concerned with the character development of Pearl herself. We witness a transition from a Dorothy-type at the beginning of the film and leave having watched the Wicked Witch of the West emerge. Better yet, we understand why — not to say we condone this transformation, but we get it.  

The quick turnaround of “X” and “Pearl” sets audiences up for a unique situation for comparative review. They work well both in tandem as well as standalone pieces. An interesting date-night or friend group get-together around Halloween could be having a multi-room watch party of the films. Sequel to “X,” “MaXXXine” is set to come out, but has yet to start filming, so stay tuned.


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