The Big Picture: Pearl and X


Graphic created in Canva by Dominique Williams and Gavin S. Hudson. Movie posters courtesy of A24.

Gavin Hudson


Welcome to this week’s The Big Picture — the first double feature! “X” and its prequel “Pearl” both come from the minds of Ti West and Mia Goth and follow the story of Pearl and Maxine (both played by Goth). 

Both are produced by A24 with a low budget and were released this year, only five months apart.  A sequel is slated for next year. 


“X” stars Goth as both protagonist and antagonist with a heavy influence from the original “Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” but in a refreshing, comedic way. It’s been a good year for horror and “X” only made it better. 

The plot follows an adult film crew that arrives at an elderly couple’s barn in the middle of nowhere to shoot a pornographic movie. The couple only thought the crew was on vacation; upon learning the crew’s true intentions, they began to hunt each member down.


At first glance, the film is a slasher. At its heart, it’s a commentary on aging and the admiration of youthful beauty. In a fascinating way, the film sheds light on the idea of intrinsic jealousy that manifests as a result of time passing. 

Admiration and jealousy surface when the elderly couple have sex in an intentionally unpleasing manner. This keeps the audience uneasy and subverts the typical goal of a horror film: freak the audience out with violence and jumpscares. 

Through the numerous deaths in the film, many are done with over-the-top comedic fashion. From alligators in a lake to pitchforks in the eyes, as the characters dwindle out one by one, the film changes its approach to each death to keep it both surprising and entertaining . 

Mia Goth’s transformation as the elderly Pearl in “X”. Pearl (Goth) sleeps in a bed with Maxine (also Goth) to admire her youth. (Picture courtesy of A24. Pictures via IMDB).

While Goth is the standout performance in the film, her co-stars Scott Mescudi and Jenna Ortega deserve their props for keeping the cast lively. Their energy keeps the story engaging, while their charisma allows a natural, amusing plot progression. 

The film stands out as the better of the two and the intention is nailed perfectly. With an exceptional execution of its thematic content, “X” gets an 8/10 from me. 


“Pearl” is weird. 

Not to say it isn’t enjoyable; it has some incredible moments, but Ti West’s “Pearl” is unorthodox. 

The film takes place in the 40’s and explored themes of adoration of fame and (for that era) the taboo of sex. Pearl is a socially unfit, egotistical nymphomaniac whose living conditions are less than desirable and her dreams far out of reach. 

Comparing these two films, “X” is a more thematic exploration and brings its subject matter to the forefront; “Pearl” presents itself like a character study of Pearl herself and her obsession with fame and love. 

Pearl has a sexual fantasy with a scarecrow in a cornfield. After meeting a man she fancies, she explores her sexual desires. (Picture courtesy of A24. Pictures via IMDB).

Credit to Mia Goth because, while she is exceptional in “X” given the challenges that came from the roles she had to play, no pun intended but she kills it in “Pearl.” 

Her impassioned cries are reminiscent of a car crash; the second-hand embarrassment I get from seeing a mentally unstable grown woman throw a tantrum in front of an audience is near impossible to watch, but Goth is too captivating to turn away from. 

The argument she gets into with a male projectionist she slept with is a spectacle. Without proper context, her breakdown is portrayed as if it were a matter of life and death. 

Mia Goth is a high caliber actor and deserves Oscar recognition at least. The credits illustrate just how insane her character is and you can see it just through the expressions given. 

While she’s the main takeaway and an incredible centerpiece to the film, Goth is pretty much all the film has to offer. The action isn’t as entertaining this time around, compared to “X” and nothing else stands out. 

While the cinematography and editing of the two films are great, only a handful of shots remain notable to me between the two films, with “X” having more memorable frames overall. 

Though aspects of the film fall short of expectations, “Pearl” still stands out as a great film thanks to Mia Goth’s performance. If you enjoy “X”, I’d say give it a chance. I give “Pearl” a 7/10.