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Pearl Early Reviews Praise Mia Goth’s X Horror Movie Prequel

With less than a month remaining until its arrival, Pearl early reviews are in and critics are praising Mia Goth’s X horror movie prequel. The upcoming film is set 60 years before its predecessor and will center on Goth’s titular character, exploring her origin story in 1918 as she struggles with feelings of isolation caring for her comatose father and the micromanagement of her mother, while also dreaming to become the next Hollywood star. As her frustrations and temptations begin to boil, Pearl finds herself going down a dark path that will lead to a lot of bloodshed.

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Goth, who portrayed an older version of Pearl in X, returns to lead the cast of Pearl that also includes David Corenswet, Tandi Wright, Matthew Sunderland and Emma Jenkins-Purro. Ti West is also back to direct the horror movie prequel, having co-written it with Goth and filmed it in secret on the same set as X right after completing the acclaimed slasher pic. While those who fell in love with X are eagerly awaiting its arrival, fans have a new reason to be excited for Pearl‘s release.

Related: Pearl Movie Timeline: How Long Before X It Takes Place

Following its Venice International Film Festival premiere, critics have begun rolling out their Pearl early reviews. Most are praising Mia Goth’s X prequel horror movie, celebrating her performance and the fleshing out of her titular character’s backstory, while others are divided on its ability to live up to its predecessor and its slow-burn pacing. See what some critics are saying below:


William Bibbiani, The Wrap:

What’s actually extraordinary is that “Pearl” is more than just a fantastic prequel: it successfully illuminates and recontextualizes its predecessor, dramatically improving a film that was already acclaimed to begin with.

Jack King, The Playlist:

Flimsy logic notwithstanding, “Pearl” is the superior of the two heavily-stylized slashers, partly because it dedicates so much time to building the eponymous antiheroine from the ground up.

Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian:

Perhaps I shouldn’t have enjoyed Pearl as much as I did: but it’s clever, limber, gruesome and brutally well acted. A gem.

Kate Erbland, IndieWire:

It’s an impressive feat of filmmaking, but one that reveals nothing new, a major misstep for a film seemingly dedicated to doing just that. What’s the point of a prequel? We already know everything we need to about Pearl, but somehow, it feels less satisfying than we last left her, broken and bloody and crushed, but at least wholly original.

David Rooney, THR:

If the resulting series of kills stints on imagination and lacks much of a genuine scare factor, the prequel’s retro stylings are a treat. The saturated colors of cinematographer Eliot Rockett’s visuals practically leap off the screen and the big surging sounds of Tyler Bates and Tim Williams’ old-school orchestral score signal high drama and danger from the start. The vintage title font and inventive use of wipes and dissolves in scene transitions complete the winking 1950s illusion.

James Mottram, GamesRadar+:

Clever, violent, and wicked, with a fabulously unhinged turn from Goth, West’s period psycho tale truly does have the X Factor.

Peter Debruge, Variety:

Whereas “X” unspooled like a backwater “Texas Chain Saw Massacre” homage with a lascivious Russ Meyer streak, this turns out to be a fairly straightforward cross between “Psycho” and “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?,” with Mia Goth going all-in as a small-town farm girl who’ll do anything to become a star. In short, “Pearl” is the prequel no one asked for to a movie not many people saw. And yet, despite being something of an afterthought, its distinctive look and oddly appealing antihero (picture Norman Bates as Shelley Duvall might have played him) could actually make this the more popular of the two films.

Robbie Collin, The Telegraph:

A working knowledge of X isn’t required to enjoy the stylish bloodbath that follows. But sly parallels lurk everywhere, from Pearl and Maxine’s shared belief in stardom as a means of reinvention to the various recurring locations, props and even costumes shared by the first film’s scummily downbeat 1970s and this supposedly more innocent age West initially cranks up the colour to pastiche levels, but as Pearl’s desperation mounts, the look of her world feels wrenched towards Psycho and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre: it’s as if those two films, sat at roughly the halfway point of cinema’s lifespan, are a twin black hole of depravity from which the medium can never escape.

Tim Grierson, Screen Daily:

Ti West’s ‘X’ sequel features a stellar performance from Mia Goth in an engrossing character study

The Pearl early reviews should come as a very promising sign for those who enjoyed West’s X, namely as the majority of their praise is directed towards Goth’s performance in the central role and the Technicolor palette from cinematographer Eliot Rockett. Given the very experimental nature of the horror movie prequel, having been shot in secret, it should also be a promising sign for producer A24 to see an early wave of positive reception for the film. Though some Pearl early reviews seem just as divided on its pacing as with X, it sounds as though it could meet the high bar set by its predecessor, which currently sits at a 94 percent “Certified Fresh” approval rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes.


With audiences now familiar with the world of X and Pearl early reviews praising the horror movie prequel, it will be interesting to see how the film favors in comparison to its predecessor. Having grossed over $14.5 million against its $1 million production budget, the original was a modest box office success, and with West having teased plans for a third X movie, it seems likely Pearl could at least match X and keep the filmmaker’s franchise hopes alive. Only time will tell when Pearl hits theaters on September 16.

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