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Pearl looks like an uninspired aftertought to cult horror hit X, feels cobbled together on a rushed whim and should preferably be treated in the same way the title character treats her enemies: with a swift, violent death.

Fleshing out the backstory of a movie villain has seldom reaped big dividends and Pearl, which jumps back in time about sixty years from Ti West's enjoyable seventies-porn horror X, reaps fewer than even the worst offenders in this subgenre.

The picture shows how the titular rural girl, whose husband is off fighting Germans in the Great War, dreams of stardom but is contrained by her domineering mother. Gradually she takes her fate in her own hands, with bloody results.

This mirrors the events of X, but that doesn't make Pearl an interesting film. On the contrary: seldom have I seen a horror film that moves so excruciatingly slow, spells out every detail of its story in such numbing earnestness and contains not a single horrifying scene, bar from the uncomfortably long held close-up at the very end.

Adding insult to injury are a lead performance by Goth that goes way further than campy pantomime, visuals that don't have much of an edge over your average amateur high school play and death scenes that have zero visceral impact.

In short: the pleasures that X offered are sorely missing in Pearl, so feel free to skip it.

release: 2022

director: Ti West

starring: Mia Goth, Tandi Wright, Emma Jenkins-Purro, David Corenswet


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