Directed by Ti West and co-written by Mia Gott, it takes place in 1918 as a prequel to 1979’s The Events of X. Goth plays the role of Pearl. But Pearl has big dreams – like leaving the farm and becoming a famous dancer – and she won’t let anyone stop her.
A young woman has dark desires. In one scene, she sings and dances while doing her farm work. Pitchfork in hand, he jumps on bales of hay as he dreams of stardom. After the big finish, he sees a duck happily hitting a pole and then feeding his crocodile friend. She also enjoys pinching her father, who is in a wheelchair and unable to move or react.
Pearl also prohibited desires for women during this period. One day, while cycling home through the cornfields, he stops when he encounters a scarecrow. She knocks down a straw-stuffed man and slaps him for “coming at her”, angrily claims to be her husband – and then proceeds to drain the scarecrow because she thinks it’s another man.
Pearl is naturally violent, but she also loves those around her. Killing people is never a premeditated and evil act. Most of his crimes are motivated by passion and deep sorrow.
The two argue about Pearl’s unrealistic dreams. Pearl pushes her mother and she falls into her hearth where she burns.
Later, she has an affair with the projectionist at the town’s movie theater. But when she suspects his violent tendencies, she turns away from him. Pearl gets angry at him for wanting to leave him like everyone else and stabs him with a fork.
The only murder that is definitely intentional is that of her father, who has conflicted feelings about Pearl. On the one hand, he resents her because he needs her constant care. On the other hand, he realizes that he does not deserve to die. He is very sorry for drowning her.
Later, after Pearl is rejected at a dance group audition, she takes her frustrations out on Howard’s sister, Mitzi (Emma Jenkins-Purro). She confesses everything she wants to tell Howard: how she hates him for leaving him, how she kills people. Assuming Mitzy wins the part in the dance troupe, he tells his sister-in-law how jealous he is of her. Pearl doesn’t get anything she wants, but Mitzi gets everything.
Just when Mitzi thinks Pearl will let her go, a deranged young woman comes after her to kill her with an axe.
He smiles, calls out Pearl’s name excitedly. However, her smile disappears when she sees the corpses of Mirvari’s mother and father at the table, where the worms and rotten food have joined.
Pearl greets Howard. “I’m so glad you’re home.” He then gives her a big, cool smile that lasts for three minutes before the end credits roll.
How does ‘Pearl’ relate to the sequel ‘X’?
Spoilers ahead for Ti West’s X, an erotic slasher horror film that predates the release of Pearl but takes place 60 years after the events of that film.
Mia Goth stars in both films. In X, she plays an older version of Pearl and a young porn star named Maxine. Pearl is married to Howard, who is still trying to contain his murderous tendencies. But since he can no longer fulfill her, Pearl has both brutal and urges, which she will unleash on Maxine and the other intruders on her farm.
Pearl’s picture-perfect, technicolor quality is reminiscent of films like The Wizard of Oz, as well as the saccharine quality of older Disney films.
In Pearl, Ti West subverts the importance that animals often have in Disney’s main characters. We’re used to little critters and Disney princesses getting along well in Disney movies. This is in stark contrast to the role played by animals in Pearl. Cut the pearl duck; the caged bird watches and chirps as Pearl kills her father; his farm animals avoid him; a roasted pig slowly rots on Pearl’s front porch as she descends into madness herself.
After everything turns out to be a killer, the only animal Pearl considers her friend is Ted the Crocodile, making Pearl more of a Disney princess in thought than a Disney villain in action.
West and Goth play more with this good/evil dynamic in horror. After all, Mitzy is the vision of a Disney princess. Princess has a special quality – the “X” factor that Max also has in X. Both characters exhibit a quality that Pearl lacks and remind her that she cannot escape her own darkness.