A Prequel to Ti West’s Acclaimed Film X
DIRECTED BY TI WEST/2022
Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Boogie Nights gets traded in for Carrie and Wizard of Oz in an outstanding prequel that only makes X that much better.
Mia Goth plays Pearl, the titular villain from X, which was also played by Goth but covered in heavy makeup making her look elderly. In X, she gave the impression of having a deeply villainous side that was suddenly awoken but the sexual revolution that she witnessed. But Pearl shows that this has always been inside her, hidden and tucked away.
Pearl also recontextualizes Pearl’s motives in X. The sex that ignited her in X was only half it, along with the lights, cameras, actions and dreams.
Pearl is a terrifying manifestation of someone who was never given a chance at their dream. She is all of us who dreamed something more. Any of us who wanted to be an actor, a filmmaker, a musician, or anything greater than the norm. Any of us who wanted to get out of our small town and make it to Hollywood or New York or anywhere bigger at all.
Because society encourages those dreams, but then says practicality and reality are what it really wants, even though it constantly tells you to have said dream. The dream is the carrot on the stick, but you’re being selfish to actually go for it. Because a simpler job is safer, and to society, that means more productivity (also combine in society’s views of the arts as being a non-productive industry even though it’s an industry society consumes the most).
That same society that gives that sort of duality advice – keeping you motivated with one hand and crushing you with the other – must now feel the wrath of Pearl.
I do hear this film being called too slight and undercooked, but that’s what I like about it. The cynical side of me thinks that our brains have all been melted by the MCU and a motive that’s so simple yet relatable feels like nothing, while people bend over backwards screaming at the realness of someone crossing multiverses to bring their kids back, or whatever the hell was happening in Doctor Strange.
But the more positive side of me says that this is a film that has earned its minimalism and could teach a thing or two to franchises that don’t know to slow down in their established universes.
We all know the arc she takes. This is basically a two-act story as you could say the third act is X. But instead of feeling incomplete, this allows the film to breathe and Goth to shine. Long scenes with long takes showcasing her exemplary acting. Bloody kills that another director may turn into a quick cutting hack and slash nonsense, West turns into extended shots with a style you can live in.
Pearl could be mistaken for an extended short film. This will make or break it for some, but to me, it was heaven to live in a world of wonderful colors and beautiful violence and all the immense talent of West and Goth.