Dir. Ti West
Reviewer. Martyn Wakefield
In 2009 Ti West made his name as a director to watch out for with 80s throwback, THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL. Capturing the essence and tone of what made that era of horror film so great, he managed to carve his name as one of modern cinema's horror auteurs. Since then he's had mixed success with the likes of THE INNKEEPERS and THE SACRAMENT and while many had forgotten what he could deliver it his best, in 2022 he kicked the door down to any neighsayers with surprise hit X, giving us a slice of 70s horror and pornographic themes that would surprise even the hardened A24 fans.
Even more surprisingly, X standout Mia Goth returns the very same year for a prequel of the film's villainous granny and delivers even harder than the already impenetrable X.
Pearl is a farmer's daughter (aptly for fans reminiscing over the porn film being produced throughout X) who dreams of a life outside but being a small town girl and in the midst of an influenza pandemic, not to mention her husband being out to war, her opportunities are far less than her delusions would allow.
Cue a host of battles with herself and those around her in Ti West fashion and a film that matches the bite of its predecessor but has enough bark to bring something new to the story.
Goth is a powerhouse and really brings a sense of innocence amongst the murderous mayhem that's unleashed and a monologue she gives about her struggles is deep and heart-warming yet uncomfortably removed from the situation, as are most of Pearls reasonings.
West charmingly captures an era of Hollywood cinema with every shot oversaturated into the realm of Technicolor and grasping every landscape like it captures scenes straight from THE WIZARD OF OZ. It's a beautiful contrast to the gritty framework of X and yet feels like a natural evolution of Pearl's story. The film's only suffering is that certain events are predetermined by the plot of X but fortunately much like its titular character, PEARL is a charming yet unpredictable treat.