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Pearl: Why I'm Excited About Ti West's Porn Slasher Prequel To X

Pearl sits in bed with Maxine in X.
(Image credit: a24)

Warning: light SPOILERS for X are in play. So if you want to stay fresh before seeing the film, head to another twist-free piece of coverage on CinemaBlend. 

Surprises are a rare and beautiful thing when it comes to the world of upcoming horror movies. To be fair, it takes time and strategy to promote a wide release like writer/director Ti West’s X, as you want to really prepare an audience for what to expect. However, the unexpected sometimes packs a more powerful punch, which is a part of why the news that West had already shot a prequel to his porn slasher movie bowled me over upon its announcement.

Thinking about this upcoming film, aptly titled Pearl, I’ve only become more excited for what’s to come from the second in a planned trilogy of films that Ti West is using to mark his return to filmmaking. If you don’t want to be spoiled on X, you can read our official review of the film and get hyped in a different sort of way. From this point on though, it’s time to talk about how this exercise in future past is stoking the fires just right. 

Martin Henderson and Brittany Snow watch Owen Campbell filming in X.

(Image credit: A24)

X Was An Absolute Joy To Watch

Getting the most obvious reason out of the way, I cannot stress how much fun X was to watch. Even in a limited gathering setting like a press screening, the people I saw this movie with enjoyed the bloody games being played on the screen. Naturally, any chance to get more of this sort of joy is something I’m going to chase. 

The trailer to Pearl promises exactly that, with Mia Goth’s titular character being shown in the days of her idyllic youth. Showing everything in a more colorful light, and promising some musical style numbers in its quick fire collage of images, Ti West looks to be taking what he did for 1979 in X and applying it to 1918 cinema for Pearl. What’s even better is, West didn’t even wait for his first film to hit theaters to get into the groove and make this prequel happen.

Brittany Snow stands holding a script while Jenna Ortega and Owen Campbell shoot in X.

(Image credit: A24)

Pearl Has Already Been Shot And Is In Post-Production

Somehow, unbeknownst to anyone outside of himself and the folks at A24, Ti West made Pearl at the same time he made X. So if you’re as high on the wonders of his ‘70s fueled horrorshow and you’re looking for more, the wait shouldn’t be too long. At the moment, the next film is currently in the can and being run through post-production as we speak. 

Clearly Pearl was an idea that Ti West was so passionate about, he had it ready to go with lighting-quick efficiency. Bundling that movie into the shoot/budget of X is smart for so many reasons, as it poises A24 to strike while the iron is hat from that first movie. Though there’s no clear release date for Pearl, the fact that it’s may drop as one of the upcoming movies lined up for 2022 is all the more intriguing.

Mia Goth looking over her shoulder in front of a makeup mirror in X.

(Image credit: Christopher Moss)

The Most Compelling Part Of The Film’s Backstory Is Set To Unfold With Pearl

Back to the topic of surprises, X packed one hell of a twist when it revealed Pearl (Mia Goth) and Howard (Stephen Ure) were a murderous couple that just happened to be in love. Though it didn’t excuse their actions to capture unwilling sex slaves and kill those who resisted, the plot point was a fresh departure from those who use their murders to suggest sexual repression. Still, seeing where Pearl's eventual infatuation with Maxine could have sprouted from is something I'm absolutely on board to see.

Being able to travel back in time with Pearl to see where this couple began is a hell of a prospect. Clearly Ti West didn’t work these two lovebirds out of his system with one film, and with a more old Hollywood approach looking to be on deck this time out, the visuals are set to explode in living color. Which, as any good horror fan will tell you, is only beneficial to any sort of carnage that’s shown on screen.

Mia Goth reflected in a mirror in X.

(Image credit: Christopher Moss/A24)

At Least One More X Prequel Could Happen, If Pearl Proves To Be A Hit

Pearl isn’t the limit to this potential franchise’s ambitions. Though the immediate plans for this trilogy of films is to follow up Pearl with a sequel that takes place after X’s events, there’s another option that Ti West could explore. Were he interested, the story of Maxine Minx (Mia Goth) and her secretive past could also be mined for a film of its own.

With the revelation that Maxine ran away from the religious order that’s seen throughout several television broadcasts in X, the reasons for her escape pose a pretty possibility. Perhaps a movie fashioned after the many shock and awe tracts that were made by ministers like Estus Pirkle could provide another horror entry influenced by a very specific style of filmmaking. Again, that’s only if West’s interests ran in this direction, as so far his heart already seems pretty set on a given trajectory.

Mia Goth holding a finger to her lips in X.

(Image credit: Christopher Moss)

We Don’t Get Nearly Enough Surprise Prequels Or Sequels

Bringing it all home on the X homestead, the fact that Pearl happened without any previous fanfare makes me long for something we don’t nearly get enough of: surprise franchise expansions. The last time I can think of such a thing happening was when M. Night Shyamalan used the ending to his 2016 film Split to secretly continue the Unbreakable saga. When it came time to eventually close out that storyline with Glass, the film’s box office success spoke pretty clearly

People like to be surprised by getting more of what they like. Pearl is now positioned to do the same thing Glass did and serve up some more unique horror thrills that continue the story that originated in X. There might be a slight bit of fear going into this next round, as a bolt out of the blue like the first film isn’t easy to come by. That being said, it feels like Ti West’s continuing saga of horror and romance is just getting started, and I can’t wait to find out what happens next. 

X is currently steaming up a theater near you, and is a highly recommended thrill ride. Pearl, on the other hand, doesn’t have a spot on the schedule of 2022 movie releases, assuming it does indeed come out this year. Let’s hope that news arrives sooner than later, especially since if Ti West’s plans are any indication, the picture should be finished by late May. For now, we’ll just have to wait with our memories of Pearl and Howard’s killing spree, and the hopes that we’ll get to see their younger selves by time Halloween rolls around. 

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.