May 25, 2024

PEARL (2022) – A prequel that is better than its original. Another Ti West masterpiece!

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Rating: ⭐⭐⭐ ⭐

Pearl is director Ti West’s prequel to his “X” which was released earlier this year. It takes place some 50 years earlier to tell us the background story of the psycho elderly woman killer in “X”. “X”was in itself already a great horror movie that was a violent mix and match of sex and gore masterly imaged by Ti West.

In this movie, Ti West chose a very different approach. He deliberately filmed in using bright colours and took his time on the story rather than assault us with bloody killings. The tragic backstory of Pearl shows us how she became the killer she was in “X”. Her life in the farm where she lived with her parents was first showed as being beautiful and care-free. Ti West masterfully bathed the screen like a Technicolour dream. Even the beginning credit roll was a perfect tribute to how the old classic movies used to be, down to the font type used, and over dramatic music. This serenity soon gives way to a far more miserable reality for our protagonist. She feels trapped by her strict mother, and the restrictions from a deadly flu pandemic. Her husband is away fighting the war leaving her feeling alone and frustrated. She dreams of becoming a dancer and sneaks to the town’s cinema whenever she can to live her dreams on screen. Circumstances turns for the worst as her mental state reaches breaking point.

Mia Goth who was also in “X”, plays Pearl with an Academy Award worthy performance. Her portrayal of a woman under mental stress is at times subtle and at times terrifying when her inner feelings are revealed. This is never more evident than in a long monologue scene she has with her sister-in-law where she pours out her inner thoughts. This scene is far more horrifying than the blood and gore that most other lesser slasher horror movie would normally resort to.

It is rare feat for Ti West to come up with a character that is basically the villain of the piece but yet can manage to get our sympathy. Rarer still is for a slasher movie that spends more time with the story and dialouge than flooding the screen with blood and gore. Ti West finds inspiration from the old classics to paint a very beautiful looking movie that runs contrary to the grim story that lives in it. Along the way, he even has time to play tribute to the art of cinema and the origins of porn movies (in a reference to the first film “X” which involved a porn movie crew). Rarer still is to come up with a prequel that I can honestly say is better than the original. This film actually makes the original film “X” feel more complete with our now better understanding and appreciation of why Pearl ended up the way she was 50 years later.

This a clearly one of the year’s best movies and I can’t wait to see what’s next from Ti West.

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