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‘Pearl’ proves the next great horror franchise has the ‘X’ factor

‘Pearl’ proves the next great horror franchise has the ‘X’ factor

‘Pearl’ proves the next great horror franchise has the ‘X’ factor
September 25
12:00 2022

In March, Ti West’s “X” quickly established itself as the year’s best horror film. “Pearl,” a prequel to West’s sex-filled slasher, is a blood-soaked nightmare pulled from your favorite Disney movie.

“Pearl” feels so distant from its predecessor, but it complements “X” to perfection. The next great horror franchise is forming right before our very eyes. The best performance of 2022 takes center stage in this bright and brutal take on old Hollywood.

Pearl and her family are isolated on a farm as they try and survive the 1918 influenza pandemic. Pearl has dreams of becoming a star, but her ego proves to be her biggest obstacle. Time is an enemy and she doesn’t want to waste her youth tending to farm animals. If there is one thing Pearl has in her arsenal, it is killer determination.

Mia Goth is perfect. She was tasked with playing both Pearl and Maxine in “X” yet her performance in “Pearl” is much more impressive. The beginning of the film establishes there is something wrong with Pearl, and she is constantly broken down as the film goes on. Whatever is lying deep within her is begging to come out.

The more the world wrongs her, the more of a reason she has to let chaos ensue. A monologue Goth gives towards the end of the film is an all-timer. Her ability to swap emotions at a moment’s notice is pure magic.

For the majority of the film, Goth feels very reserved and quiet. In an instant, she is able to flip a switch and become alarmingly sinister. If any major award shows respected the horror genre, award season would be Goth’s for the taking.

From the get-go, Pearl is just evil. Dreams are met with reality and the innocent front Pearl puts up slowly withers away. Any inconvenience she faces is met with a temper tantrum — some of which prove to be lethal to others. 

The self-proclaimed star desperately needs validation from others, creating hilarious moments of pathetic self-pity. The dark humor only adds to her character, putting Pearl next to horror icons like Chucky from “Child’s Play” and Esther from “Orphan.”

“X” and “Pearl” could not be more stylistically different. “X” feels grimy and humid while “Pearl” feels colorful and whimsical. Elegant fonts and bright colors are front and center, which makes the heinous acts feel so much worse.

Normally bright colors and angelic music are supposed to bring comfort, but the exact opposite is delivered. It plays with your head constantly, creating a fever dream for the ages. It will be hard to look at scarecrows the same ever again.

The horror may not be as present as it was in “X” but there are still some stellar kills in “Pearl.” Some of them feel as though Pearl is putting on a show for the audience. It adds an extra layer of creepy elevated by Goth’s performance.

West is a genre master at this point, so don’t expect all scares to come strictly from kills. Something as simple as a conversation between two characters can make viewers uncomfortable. Both “X” and “Pearl” sit perfectly next to one another as some of this year’s greatest cinematic achievements.

“Pearl” was filmed secretly alongside “X,” making this entire situation even more mind-blowing. Each film stands on its own with ease but viewing them together is the ultimate satisfying experience. With just two entries and a third on the way, the “X” universe already outshines a large portion of existing horror franchises.

“MaXXXine” is set to be the third film in the trilogy. As long as both West and Goth are involved, you can count on filled seats anticipating a return to this twisted world once again. There is nothing like the horror genre in 2022.

“Pearl” gives everything needed to expand on this franchise and then some. It’s a technicolor gore fest sure to raise the hairs on anyone’s back. If “X” was an homage to old-school slashers, “Pearl” is a bloody take on the Golden Age of cinema.

No amount of campaigning will get Goth the recognition she deserves for the work she has done in 2022. A horror legend has been born and catapulted into stardom. Pearl may not be a star in her world, but she is famous in ours.

Jaden’s Rating: 5/5

Featured Illustration by Allie Garza

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Jaden Oberkrom

Jaden Oberkrom

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