Pearl Movie Review
A glorious descent into madness, the low-budget Pearl plays a lot like Psycho–if Norman Bates were to have sex with a scarecrow. Starring Mia Goth and directed by Ti West, the movie is a prequel to X–released earlier the same year–and depicts Pearl as she graduates from cute farmgirl to psychopathic killer.
Goth, especially in the third act, is excellent, delivering a performance that elevates the otherwise basic material. Having already played the same character as a dementia-riddled old woman in X (where she lusts after a young porn star, played by… Mia Goth), the actress gets to put on full display her range and ability to seduce and frighten in the same scene.
As for the movie, it’s pretty good. Pearl isn’t sensational–the same could be said for X, a slasher that skewed a little too heavy on style over legitimate thrills (West is a talented director, but is much more interested in style and atmosphere than he is on traditional storytelling)--but it is an entertaining and arresting little movie that both builds Pearl up as a sympathetic character and transforms her into something that’ll eventually make her the worst AirBnb host in the history of worst AirBnb hosts.
Patience is required, as Pearl takes its time establishing its central character and the elements that lead to her mental destruction (although it’s quite obvious she has psychopathic tendencies before any real slaughter begins). But once the movie turns the corner, Pearl becomes a satisfying and deranged bloodbath.
As with X, I feel West could have done even more with the storytelling fundamentals, but unlike that movie, Pearl is very much about the character’s awakening, if you will. To that end, he succeeds in spades.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.