Some are under an impression that Ti West‘s Pearl (A24, currently playing), the X prequel, is some kind of unusual, imaginative gothic slasher film blah blah. And I’ve been told “you really ought to see this.”
Well, I caught it last night, and shame on the above-described. They need to beg for forgiveness, take their shirts off and beat themselves with birch branches, wash their mouths out with soap.
That goes double for a friend who wrote that “while X is a generic slasher flick, Pearl does flesh out some of the X characters. X is X but Pearl is something completely different. I don’t know if you’ll like it or not, at the very least the cinematography is fairly stunning.”
Allow me to ask a question of the Pearl fan clubbers. The question is “what is wrong with you?”
Pearl is a facile, lazily conceived, sloppily written, incongruent American gothic slasher flick that basically asks “what if Dorothy Gale was an enraged, self-hating, mother-hating, animal-hating, everything-hating fiend who uses a three-pronged pitchfork the way Norman Bates used a kitchen carving knife?”
I know what strikingly handsome, wow-level cinematography shot in a wide-open farming locale looks like. Nestor Almendros and Haskell Wexler‘s lensing of Days of Heaven is one example. The bucolic farm images of Pearl (shot in New Zealand, pretending to be Texas) are decent but nothing to get too excited about. Bothersome at times…under-lighted, sometimes muddy compositions. It reminded me of the visual palettes of The Hills Have Eyes, I Spit On Your Grave and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Seriously, fuck this movie.
Random jottings during the screening:
(a) “This is low-rent crap…perverse, brainless, derivative psycho Americana“;
(b) “Pearl’s hard-nosed German mother (Tandi Wright) emphasizes that life is hard and they need to struggle to survive, but she refuses a neighbor’s gift of a stuffed pig?”;
(c) “An alligator living in a lake in Texas?”;
(d) “Mia doesn’t like to be stared at by the brown cow”;
(e) “For my money the cinematography is on the muddy and grainy and under-lighted side”;
(f) “Wright’s performance is pretty good”;
(g) “The 1920s silent stag film was diverting”;
(h) “Masturbating with the scarecrow was okay“;
(i) “The allusion to the 1918 pandemic was interesting”;
(j) “Why doesn’t she chop her father’s hands off with an axe and feed them to the alligator? Why doesn’t she feed herself to the alligator?”;
(k) “Stupid crap…wasting my life watching this shit…feed him to the fake gator!”;
(l) “Where does Pearl get the idea that she’s some kind of good singer or dancer? I know she’s delusional but why go to an audition if she doesn’t have some kind of half-reasonable hope that the audition guys will respond to her skill and talent? That said, the World War I chorus girl sequence isn’t bad”;
(m) “Pearl pitchforks the only nice, sensible guy in the whole film because he begins to realize she’s a bit of wacko, which of course she is”;
(n) “I’m soooo glad I never saw X. I’m ecstatic that I missed it.”
(o) “Ti West is an animal…a serious primitive…the polar opposite of a filmmaker like, say, Todd Field.”