Horror fans who stayed in the theater for Ti West’s gory thrill-kill horror movie X back in March got a bright, bloody sample of a project following close on its heels: West’s prequel movie Pearl, a second horror movie laying out the backstory of X’s primary villain. The first full trailer for Pearl is an expansion of that post-X teaser, with more story reveals, more blood, and more teases about what’s going on in Pearl’s head.
[Ed. note: Spoilers for X ahead.]
X is set in 1979, as a group of ambitious amateurs haul a pile of filmmaking equipment out to a remote, rented farmhouse and set out to make an X-rated movie, which they hope will vault them to the big time. The farmhouse’s ancient owners, Pearl and Howard, take exception to the project, and start murdering the filmmakers. Mia Goth stars in a double role as Maxine, the porn project’s ruthless, fame-hungry co-star, and as Pearl, who’s openly and evidently jealous of Maxine’s youth and beauty.
Pearl jumps back in time to Pearl’s youth, when she, too, was a fame-hungry girl limited by her origins and poverty, but willing to kill to be in the movies. The film, which West told Polygon will be “very different” from X, has a vivid Technicolor look that seems meant to romanticize the bucolic setting and remind viewers of movie musicals of the 1930s and 1940s, like The Wizard of Oz. It also has a darker side, as Pearl learns about pornographic films, sizes up her competition, and picks up her pitchfork to deal with anything in her way. Confined to her family farm by her controlling mother and forced to care for her ailing father, Pearl plans a bloody escape.
West told Polygon earlier this year that Pearl and X were planned during a COVID quarantine and shot back to back, on the same set. “It was really like, not making both movies but editing both of them that was the biggest challenge,” he says. “Because as you got near the end of X, and you were sort of enjoying that triumph of almost being done, to be back at zero on Pearl was like psychologically, you know, quite challenging.”
Pearl will be in theaters on Sept. 16. X is available for rental or purchase on Amazon, Vudu, and other digital platforms.