I spoke a few weeks ago about the company A24 and how they have been producing a lot of really good movies lately. I should have also labeled them as unique and interesting…. this is definitely what I can see about the movie Pearl. The production on this film is also something that is unique. Earlier this year a horror movie called X came out. It had the same director and the same lead Mia Goth. The film is a homage to 70s horror movies (think The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) and I thought it was good but not great. HOWEVER, there is an end credit scene that shows the lead Pearl (Goth) and we realize the story is not over. We then learned that the director and our lead filmed a whole other movie while they filmed X. Whereas X was an homage to 70s slasher horror, Pearl was supposed to be an homage to films of the 20s and 30s ( think Wizard of Oz and Oklahoma) with a horror twist. I did not know what to expect going in but my brother Aaron was a huge fan so off we went to see Pearl.
Onto the film.
We open in 1918 and Texas and meet Pearl (Goth) this opening is incredibly strange and unsettling (which you’ll feel that way the entire movie) although I was drawn in. Pearl (Goth) is living on a farm with her parents (her father is disabled) and we see her helping out and she skips around the farm literally singing to the animals. I immediately though of Oklahoma and was a little confused. From the film score to the look of the cinematography. This felt different than anything I had ever seen before. We learn that Pearl (Goth) wants to live town or run off with her husband Howard (Sewell) when he comes back from the war.
We then meet Pearl’s parents Ruth (Wright) and the Father (Sunderland) who are a peculiar pair. Ruth (Wright) is very mean to Pearl (Goth) you can tell this is normal behavior and you feel the tension build every time Pearl is yelled at. Father (Sunderland) is essentially comatose and the family keeps him fed full of morphine while he drools and waits to be fed. The whole family is just off.
I sat confused as I watched this film play out. Would Pearl (Goth) get away and live a life with the movie stars? She is desperate to be on the big screen like the actresses she watches and flirts with the Projectionist (Corenswet) I don’t want to get more of the plot away but I will start with the positives.
The acting from Mia Goth is absolutely astounding. I don’t know if the Academy will nominate someone for an award that’s in a horror film like this, but she has a monologue towards the end that is raw, uncomfortable, and most importantly, breathtaking. The cinematography is something I was impressed with as well. Ti West, the director, wanted a “Wizard of Oz” and “Oklahoma” feel and he got that. I have never witnessed a film with that tone, yet the eerie horror spin on it.
The bad is the runtime. I felt that the movie dragged on and on….and on. I kept waiting for something to happen. The film takes its time letting the tension build but it got to the point where I was starting to lose interest before something happened. It is a very slow cat and mouse game on the screen.
If you’ve watched the first film X you will watch this. If not, it will make you want to watch it immediately after. I MUST WARN YOU though this is not like anything you will have seen before. You will be uncomfortable, but it is a horror film and October is on the horizon. For the genre it was in and its uniqueness I was impressed yet confused and a little shocked. 4 stars out of 5