Actress Mia Goth is proving to be something of a modern day scream queen having appeared in the Suspiria remake and A Cure for Wellness amongst others and now appears in Pearl, one of three consecutive horrors including X and the soon to be released Infinity Pool. Pearl sees her in the title role, a farm girl in 1918 working hard on her parent’s farm as her father is paralysed and wheelchair bound leaving just her and her strict first generation German mother to cope. Pearl waits for her husband to return home from the end days of the war at the same time that the Spanish flu is drawing to a close too and in that respect this is one of many films reflecting on our own days of the covid pandemic lockdown and here Pearl too is only allowed out and into town wearing a mask.
It’s not the only mask she wears as her bright porcelain faced exterior hides an increasingly unstable woman and this is as much a reflection on the effects of isolation during 2020’s lockdown and right from the start in the opening scenes we see Pearl chatting to her pet cow, a goose and a ravenous alligator. All is far from right with Pearl and as one character says, ‘All this isolation is enough to send one mad’. Whereas for most of us the only escapism we had was a subscription to Netflix or in our Editor’s case, access to Babestation and a credit card (‘You’re fired!’ – Ed). But for Pearl it’s a dream to be a dancer in the movies. It’s exacerbated by a friendship with the town ‘s cinema projectionist who she develops a relationship with and whose idea of dating is showing her some explicit stag movies. It’s already clearly hinted at that she’s a hairs breadth from losing her sanity and is further confirmed when after her first meeting with the projectionist that sees her cycling home and dry humping a lifeless scarecrow , the sort of scenario not seen since Mrs Rees-Mogg’s wedding night, is an indicator that she is plunging ever deeper into insanity.
Pearl’s dream of being a dancer is further encouraged by her sister in law and both audition for a job as a dancer in the local church hall in a sort of nod to America’s Got Talent and both could be more accurately titled as America’s Got Sectioned Patients – her own audition is one of the films many highlights. But It’s a scene with Pearl in a stream of consciousness speech to her increasingly unnerved sister in law that should have ‘For Your Consideration’ over it. This is absolutely Mia Goth’s film. It’s a great performance with a wordless shot of Goth’s face that is as mesmerizing as anything that’s come before. Goth has proved herself as an actress with some very interesting roles and here she adds screenwriter to her credits with this being her first film as a writer alongside director Ti West.
Pearl, with its single setting, was shot at the same time as the 1970’s set ‘X’ and acts as a prequel to that film as she plays a younger version of the same character although no knowledge of that film is necessary. Ti West’s horror catalogue and his knowledge of horror has always been assured and there are nods here to films as varied as Psycho and Eaten Alive but still maintains its own identity in what is a deliriously demented gothic horror.
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Here’s the Pearl trailer……..