Mia Goth’s star doesn’t shoot, she stabs

Most of us want to be famous, don’t we? I might be assuming too much and blowing my cover here, but to be American is to believe that you are one fateful encounter away from wealth, fame, adoration.

It’s Lana Turner at the soda fountain. It’s Toni Braxton singing to herself at a gas station pump, and it’s Justin Bieber posting a video on YouTube. Heck, this is TikTok queen Brittany Broski trying kombucha for the first time.

You’re a star in waiting, and you could be pulled away from it all, caught up in your daydreams, if you just got a stab.

If that were true, Pearl is by far the biggest star. And oh boy, can she take a stab.

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Director Ti West titillated South by Southwest this year with the fantastic “X”, his clever tribute/slasher film about a group of hot young things shooting 1970s porn in an East Texas barn under the watchful and murderous eyes of its owners, including a very horny old lady who is only to a Norma Bates facelift. In this film, indie darling Mia Goth played both Maxine, the “last girl” convinced of her destiny as a porn star, and Pearl, the old woman thirsty for her flesh, without any preference as to her temperature.

West returned a few months later with a prequel, “Pearl”, filmed back-to-back with “X”. The same goes for Goth, performing an occult ritual to seamlessly fuse the threads of his two characters into one, playing a WWI pearl and joining West as a co-writer. You don’t need to see ‘X’ before ‘Pearl’, although it will help you with winning the repeating story.

Mia Goth and David Corenswet drive to death in

About six decades before she massacred a group of gendered children during the Carter administration, the pearl of the prequel is a wide-eyed farm girl who dances through the illusions that she will be the next Theda Bara. There is a pandemic and her husband goes to war as the world falls apart. She finds herself with an austere mother (Tandi Wright) and an invalid father trapped in his own body (Matthew Sunderland).

Desperate to escape cow-centric, alligator-infested anonymity – which, to be honest, sounds just awful – Pearl searches for a ticket wherever she finds it: at an audition for a dance troupe on tour, in the sweet promises of a sexy film projectionist (David Corenswet), and in the way a body so easily falls into a root cellar when things go wrong.

Pearl, you see, was born badly, like so many bloody movie monsters. And you know what they say about trying to break into the industry. It’s rough.

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“Pearl” reigns. It rewards genre film freaks on every corner. the figures creak with every turn of the tide, then bounce back and forth in an increasingly nightmarish fantasy. Thrill to Pearl’s cornfield waltz with a scarecrow against an azure sky, choke on your popcorn when she starts to bump the scarecrow.

Yes, like a knock-knock joke during a power outage, “Pearl” is also funny and dark. (Laughs aren’t usually punchlines — more like that GIF of Julia Louis-Dreyfus in “Veep,” giggling and mouthing “What the (expletive)?”) This sense of humor skips “Pearl about his indie horror station into something truly special, a film you’ll find yourself passing along to other curious travellers.

Mia Goth plays Texas farmer Pearl in

And no one seems happier to guide you down that bloody road than Goth, delivering the kind of stunning performance that makes hope that a disreputable film genre might, just once, sneak into an Oscar race. Her pearl ruthlessly believes that her lust for glory can dispel suffering, and pursues that belief with breathtaking cunning. You are looking for the thug with the megawatt smile and the ax ready for murder. She is Luanne Platter via “The Bad Seed”.

West by Goth’s performance is so captivating that he drags the camera over her for two extended shots near the end, with no cutaways. One is a third-act monologue that raises the red velvet curtain on our starlet’s inner rot—a real sizzle reel thing for Goth. The second comes at the very end, and we won’t spoil it, but it sums up the whole ethos of “Pearl”: kinda ridiculous until suddenly awful.

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Prepare yourself, however, for our heroine (?) to follow you. If we could peer for a moment, “Pearl” is sure to inspire female boss memes and social media adoration of the “good for her” genre. It will be a little too easy for the Internet to identify with this fictional murderer.

Pearl will get her fame. Our willingness to give it to him, and to covet it, could be the film’s fatal blow.

If you see ‘Pearl’

To note: A

With : Mia Goth, David Corenswet, Tandi Wright, Matthew Sunderland

Director: Ti West

Note : R

Operating time: 1 hour, 42 minutes

Look: In theaters