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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Criticism: ‘Pearl’ Review

Pearl
via IMDb
Pearl

Score: 5/10

“Pearl” is a farmhouse horror film that revolves around a young woman passionate for the spotlight, yet caged by the strictness of her German mother and disease-ridden father. While impatiently waiting for her husband to return from the First World War, Pearl, played by Mia Goth, slowly spirals into the psychopathic killer we see in “X,” the first chapter of Ti West’s horror franchise which had its theatrical release only seven months prior.

The 102-minute horror movie was, at most, underwhelming. With a plot that seemed to be at a standstill until the last, and goriest, murder scene, there was no true notable experience besides the ticket clerk asking if I was old enough to view an R-rated movie and the montage of chopping up a body while a German lullaby was sung by the main character’s charred mother. 

One should see “X,” a slasher about a group of actors who fight for their lives while making an adult film in 1970s Texas, to truly experience the craft Goth puts into both “Pearl” as the titular character and Maxine in “X” — dual roles of murderous women both played by Goth.  The number of references placed throughout the film can be enjoyable for “X” fans to dive deeper into how sociopathic the farmgirl villain came to be. From the farmhouse that became a tether between the two movies, to the similar, violent drive for becoming a star between Pearl and Maxine, the experience is more rewarding when watching “X” and “Pearl” as a  double feature.

Goth, who played the main role in both “Pearl” and “X,” is emerging in the horror film world with her characters. Previously seen in 2020’s “Emma,” a rendition of Jane Austen’s romantic comedy, the British actress has done a full 180 and became the face of West’s horror vision in under a year. Her doll-like features, realistic southern accent and unreliable temper allow for both Pearl and Maxine to come to life in an entertaining way that keeps the audience hooked on her in every scene, unsure of what the next kill will look like.

With that said, the latest release is a much easier watch compared to the franchise’s debut film. The second part of the slasher trilogy is filled with the physiological horror that comes with being isolated and surrounded by the sickness of the Spanish flu while the latter is filled with many sexual themes to the point of being tasteless. After experiencing “X,”the audience would have expected the same level of caution when entering “Pearl,” yet the film had a completely different tone, almost as a love note toward early Hollywood and the film era that shortly follows the invention of the projector.

The score, orchestrated by Tyler Bates and Timothy Williams, painted “Pearl” to be a trip to Oz like West intended, very different from the darker, more sexual original film that gained its inspiration from “Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” The nod to the “Wizard of Oz” can be best seen from the way Pearl longs for a life outside of her secluded farm. She continuously uses her bike as a way to feed her hunger for wanderlust by attending the local theater against her mother’s wishes and forms a relationship with the “Wizard,” or the projectionist, played by David Corenswet. The scenes were filled with dramatic, fantasy-like notes that one would hear during the 1939 musical that starred Judy Garland.

“Pearl” is still in theaters and will be available for DVD and Blu-ray on Nov. 8.

 

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