Pearl ★★★☆☆ – Glasgow Film Festival Review

3 mins read

Pearl is the second addition to Ti West’s three-part ‘X Trilogy’ which marked it’s UK premiere at the Glasgow Film Festival this week.

In 1918, a young girl pursues stardom in an attempt to escape the bleak, desolate life on her parent’s farm, while descending further and further into a ruthless madness.

While X was a traditional slasher, paying homage, maybe rather too noticeably, to Tobe Hooper’s horror classic, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Pearl is more focused on character drama – something briefly touched on in X.

Image credit: a24

No colour like Technicolor

Shot alongside X, Pearl shares a lot of similarities & ‘easter eggs’ with its sister film. However, it has it’s own unique cinematographic flair with it’s glorious technicolour-inspired photography.

As the descent into madness of Pearl plays out in front of us, the distinct reds act as a warning, or perhaps show the increased anger, lust, and power of the character, while the beautifully sunlight outdoors contrast the dark goings-on inside Pearl’s family home.

X was a brutal, gory experience and this is no different – even if it’s slightly tamer than some of X’s more horrific moments. Pearl sets people alight and fatally burns them, whether intentionally or not.

She stabs people with pitchforks & chases them with axes. And the gore itself proves practical effects rule and are not for the easily squeamish.  

Goth is sensational, a new horror icon

Mia Goth gives a powerhouse performance and arguably one of the best since Toni Colette’ in Hereditary (2018). A late act-three monologue shows her emotional range and she really sells Pearl’s journey from farmgirl to brutal killer.

Even if Pearl’s plot is a little basic and feels like you’ve seen variations of it before, the admission price is worth it for Goth’s performance alone.

Pearl is desperate to break free of her current life and become a star – or rather, she believes she already is one.

Her mother struggles with showing affection to her daughter and is emotionally abusive, and her father is sickened and unable to care for his family.

It’s a standard set-up for a story of this manner and for most of its runtime, Pearl is happy to play it safe with its typical arcs and twists, but is effective in showing how the search and desire for fame can become obsessive and corrupt someone.

Pearl is an intriguing horror picture even if it doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it’s slow building pace and Technicolor cinematography help it stand out amongst other ’22 horror – the basic Smile and failed promise of The Black Phone ­– and it’s undeniably a fun prequel to X that feels like an extension of that film’s themes rather than an unnecessary cash grab.

Featured Image Credit: a24

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