Plot: What’s it about?
“It’s all part of a trilogy.”
Truer words have never been spoken. And we have to credit Randy (Jamie Kennedy) from Scream. Who knew he was a prophet? Antiquated references aside, this one came as quite a surprise to a lot of folks. We were treated to X, set in the 1970’s with the look, feel and tone of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. And if you stayed for the closing credits, there was a trailer for this – Pearl. Without ruining the previously-mentioned movie, let’s just say that Pearl gets her own movie. And it’s quite the tale. If origin stories are your thing and/or you just can’t get enough of the world that Ti West has created, then this is for you. If not, that’s fine as well – the two take place in the same universe, but this one has a look and feel that’s entirely its own.
Taking place in 1918, we again (or for the first time, depending on your point of view) meet Pearl (Mia Goth). She’s a young married woman whose husband is off fighting in World War I. She’s at home on her farm with her cruel and controlling mother and her ailing father doesn’t appear to be long for this world. The spread of the flu has left Pearl essentially trapped indoors. This lack of activity and lacking any social connection leads her to act on her impulses. Pearl does manage to make it into town and sees a movie musical. She meets the projectionist (David Corenswet) who encourages to follow her dream of being a dancer. However, her efforts to leave the farm come into jeopardy pushing her further into the realm of madness.
Pearl is one of those movies that doesn’t really serve too big of a purpose. I’d liken it to El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie or Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. By that I mean that these films do shed some more light on the original source material. But there really was no reason to make an entire movie to fill a plot hole or explain something that really didn’t need explaining. That’s not to say that Pearl doesn’t have it own merits – it does and with it being part of a trilogy, I suppose that this is a necessary step in the right direction. And while there is violence, don’t expect it to follow the same lines as X. You’ll have to wait for it and see how and why Pearl is the way she is in that film. It’s a nice, wild ride but I think I prefer X to this.
Video: How’s it look?
As I alluded to above, seeing X isn’t necessarily a requirement, though it might give the viewer a deeper appreciation for this film. And, visually, that’s where the movies differ. Those who have seen X know that it took some inspiration from films like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Pearl doesn’t follow suit. This one has more of an etherial look and feel to it. It looks more like a classic Hollywood movie along the lines of The Wizard of Oz or A Star is Born. Yes, an odd comparison to be sure, but I feel it quite accurate. The AVC HD 2.39:1 encode evokes what we’d expect of the aforementioned films. Detail is spot on and if you’ve done or will do a double feature this will be the far “dreamier” looking of the two. Colors are bold and bright making for a very good-looking movie, though it wasn’t what I was expecting.
Audio: How’s it sound?
The included DTS HD Master Audio mix has a few moments where some muscle can be flexed, but by and large it’s a pretty straight-forward track. Vocals are pure and clean lacking any and all distortion. They’re strong. Surrounds are used conservatively, though in the third act I was pleasantly surprised at how effectively used they were. The front stage shoulders the burden of most of the action, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing. This isn’t one of those mixes that “puts you right in the middle of the action” but does its job and does it well.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Time After Time – Writer/Director Ti West describes some of the visual differences between X and Pearl, citing the look and landscape of the farm and so forth. This gives a good overall contrast to the two films.
- Coming Out of Her Shell: The Creation of Pearl – The more robust of the two featurettes is this one. Running 12 minutes, it’s a more in-depth look at the making of the film with candid comments from West as well as star Mia Goth. I’d personally wait until after you’ve seen the movie to check this out, but it’s a nice feature to have (though a commentary would have been the icing on the cake).
- Teaser Trailer
- Theatrical Trailer
The Bottom Line
It’s odd that X was the middle movie in a planned trilogy of films. Who does this guy think he is – George Lucas? I’m sure I won’t need to explain that reference. For those that couldn’t get enough of that universe in the previous (er…future?) film, then this is more of the same, but with a totally different vibe. Pearl looks and sounds good, though a bit short on the supplements.