Prequel film “Pearl” lives up to expectations

Horror film acts as a satisfying lead in to compainion film ‘X’

Written By Dan Russo, Staff Writer

Ti West has quickly shot up to becoming one of my favorite directors of the past few years. Ever since I watched VHS back on Netflix at the ripe age of 13 I have been following his work. His two most recent films, X and Pearl have proven to be his most ambitious work yet.

Pearl is a prequel to the March 2022 film, X. For those not in the loop, X and Pearl were shot back to back, each sharing themes, sets, and budgets. While normally, a sequel getting released the same year would raise red flags, it has not been done with this level of competency in ages. Both X and Pearl play off of each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and in my opinion you can’t watch one without the other.

The most important thing these two movies have in common is Mia Goth, who co-wrote this movie along with Ti West. Goth is truly on her way to join the scream queen pantheon in between her performances here and the Susperia remake. Her performances in both movies thus far need to be commended, and in this movie especially she shines. A lot of the time of this movie is spent with her, and it is a great character study.

The movie juggles themes of promiscuity, selfishness and a perhaps ham-fisted allegory for Covid-19. It also discusses the adult movie business, which is touched upon so much more in X, but with it being a prequel, it lays out a lot of the themes for X.

Both of his movies so far have had a distinct style with their own way of conveying terror, and both movies use their own style to great effect. While X was very grimy and harkens back to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Pearl takes notes from Carrie and the Golden Age of Hollywood, most notably, the Wizard of Oz.

. There is a vintage technicolor filter over everything in Pearl, making a ton of colors, especially the color red, pop. While X used a ton of 70s rock and equally creepy original acoustic music, Pearl opts for a full-on orchestral soundtrack. Pearl’s oftentimes surreal style makes me think of that final dream sequence in Carrie, where nothing is exactly quite right and is used to illustrate Pearl’s often twisted view of the world around her.

Overall, Pearl is an excellent prequel to an already excellent movie. I recommend seeing this one in the theater if you can. Just make sure to section off some time to watch X before or after, to really get the full gist of it. I’d recommend watching X first but it doesn’t matter too much. Just avoid as much about the movie as possible. The reason I talked very little about the plot to this movie is that Pearl and X are at their best when you have as little information to go off as possible. Just be ready to be wowed by Mia Goth. It makes me even more excited for the upcoming sequel, MaXXXine, hopefully bringing closure to what very well might be Ti West’s magnum opus.