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Good for “Pearl”: A24’s Newest Slasher is a Must See

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Bowling Green chapter.

Warning: This movie contains graphic scenes of murder/gore and some sexual themes. This article talks about those as well. If that’s not your thing, no worries! This article and movie just may not be for you. It also contains spoilers about Pearl, so if you haven’t seen it yet, I would wait to read this article until after.

Many of us dream of being famous; whether that’s being famous through singing or acting or writing, many people would do anything to become well known in the world. Pearl takes being famous to a whole new level: some people would do ANYTHING for fame, even murder. From the production company that brought us Midsommar, Hereditary, and Euphoria, Pearl centers around a farm girl who just wants to be famous.

The movie is set in 1918 on a farm in Texas. Pearl, played by Mia Goth (also seen in the movie X), dreams of being a famous movie star. However, she is stuck helping her German immigrant mom, Ruth, take care of their farm, along with taking care of her dad who has become paralyzed. Her husband Howard is off fighting in World War I, so she eagerly waits for his return. She met her husband when he came to work on the family’s farm as a farm hand. Ruth knows that Pearl dreams of being a star and doesn’t approve. The movie opens with Pearl trying on one of Ruth’s old dresses and pretending she is a star. She catches Pearl and reminds her that she didn’t have permission to wear it and asks her to change.

One day, Pearl is sent into town to retrieve some medicine for her dad. Because they are living in the middle of the 1918 influenza pandemic, Ruth instructs her to always wear her mask and not to talk to anyone. While in town, she passes the local theatre and decides to stop in for a show. Afterwards, Pearl meets the projectionist who immediately takes a liking to her. He asks if she wants to see how the projection works but she insists that she has to get back home. He then gives her a little snippet of the movie reel to take with her. On her way home, Pearl stops and sees a scarecrow and starts dancing with it, while fantasizing about the projectionist. There’s more to that part but…I’ll let you see it for yourself.

Later that night, Pearl sneaks out of the house to go back to see the projectionist. He decides to show her a new type of film, called a stag film (an X rated movie). During this time, these types of movies were made in secret because it was considered extremely taboo to have sex on film. The projectionist talks about how he got the film in Europe and how he wants to go back there. He says Pearl has star quality and that she should be on the screen and to follow her dreams. She shuts him down and says she can’t abandon her family, but that she sometimes also wishes they would die (spooky).

The next day, Pearl gets a visit from her mother and sister in law, who bring a pig for the family to eat. Mitsy (the sister in law) tells Pearl about a dance troupe audition happening the next morning at the church. She encourages Pearl to come audition with her the next day and Pearl becomes excited. Later at dinner, Ruth confronts her by showing a pamphlet that Pearl had brought home from the cinema. Her mom gets upset about the fact that she spent money on the film and how Pearl’s dreams would get in the way of her work at the farm and taking care of her dad. The argument becomes physical when she shoves Ruth near an open fire, only to have her dress ignite in flames. Ruth faces severe and lethal burns because of the altercation, so Pearl puts her body into the basement. With her dad still seated in the kitchen, having witnessed the ordeal, she runs back to the theatre to see the projectionist. It’s implied that they have sex and she stays the night.

The next morning, he drives Pearl back to her farm so she can prepare for the dance troupe audition. We see the pig left on the porch by Pearl’s mother and sister in law has now been infested with maggots and the projectionist notices this too. He also sees Pearl’s father sitting alone and notices her mom is nowhere to be found. He becomes uneasy with the situation and attempts to leave the farm. Pearl then starts yelling, asking him why he’s abandoning her. In a fit of rage, she stabs him with a pitchfork and feeds his body to an alligator, by putting his body in the car and pushing it into a pond.

Before her audition, she wears one of Ruth’s old dresses (a long, red dress) and dresses her dad before smothering him to death. When she arrives at the church, Mitsy is there waiting for her and has saved her a seat. When Pearl goes in to audition, she does her dance. However, the talent judges are not impressed and tell her that she doesn’t have what they are looking for. They want someone who is younger, blonde, and more “All American.” Pearl becomes distraught and is seen sobbing outside the church steps.

When Mitsy and Pearl return to the farm, she confesses the resentment she has for Howard, how she doesn’t understand why he would want to stay on the farm when he comes from an affluent family. She also confesses her affair with the projectionist and the murders of him and her parents. Mitsy tries to leave and its also revealed that she was given the part in the dance troupe. Pearl then chases Mitsy down the driveway and kills her with an axe, cuts up her body, and feeds it to the alligator. She then goes back inside and lays with her mom’s corpse and realizes that Ruth was right; she should make the best of what she has.

The movie ends with Howard coming back from the war to the farm. Upon his return, Pearl has put out the maggot infested pig on the dinner table, with other rotting/molding sides. She dresses up her parents’ corpses and sits them around the table. Pearl greets him with an uncomfortable, huge grin to show that she’s trying to make a life for them. The movie ends on the scene of her unsettling smile.

The movie was directed by Ti West and wanted this movie to serve as a prequel to other movie X. It received an approval rating of 88% and made around $4 million in its first weekend at the box office. As for my personal thoughts, I thought this movie was a must see (unless gore isn’t your thing, then I would suggest watching something else). Mia Goth gave a stunning performance and is overall just adorable. I didn’t know this movie was supposed to be a prequel and haven’t seen X yet, but am planning to watch it soon.

I liked the fact that they included mask wearing and pandemic jitters in the movie, but from the pandemic that occurred over 100 years ago. It was interesting to see how similar they were to the COVID-19 pandemic. People were wearing cloth masks, social distancing, and overall limiting how much they went in public. In the film, Ruth talks about how if her dad gets the virus, he could get seriously ill or die, because he is immunocompromised. It was nice to see that people cared about stopping the spread back then.

I also really enjoyed the similarities it had to other A24 productions. For example, when Ruth catches on fire during the movie. We see a similar scene in Hereditary when the dad is engulfed in flames. Also, when Pearl doesn’t get the part in the dance troupe, we hear her devastating cry that makes us want to cry or at least makes us feel for her. This same cry is seen in Midsommar when Dani’s family is killed in a murder-suicide by her sister. We also see this same cry in Euphoria season two when Cassie throws up in the hot tub after an uncomfortable conversation about Maddy and Nate takes place. The movie had many classic A24 themes and it was interesting to piece them all together. Overall, I thought this was a great film and eagerly await to see Mia Goth in more films.

Kassidy Hoyt

Bowling Green '22

I am a student at Bowling Green State University. My major is Political Science and my minor is Sociology. After graduation I want to get my Masters in Public Administration and work for a Non-Profit Organization. I love hanging out with my friends, coloring, and playing my Nintendo Switch. I have a cat and I love all animals. She/her they/them.