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Pearl

Farhad Dalal
By-
Farhad Dalal
Rating
3.5 Star popcorn reviewss

Introduction

It is a Thursday just before a mega weekend awaits us and I thought of squeezing in a new review. But before that, India have been knocked out of another ICC tournament in the semi finals of the T20 World Cup. And what a hammering that was from England. As my mood is slowly drowning, partially holding up only because Popcorn Reviewss has completed 2 years today. It has been a journey filled with ups and downs and learnings too, something that Team India need to take note of from this humiliating loss! And I am reluctantly penning this review, literally pushing myself to get over the line. This is because the show must go on! With that I finished watching the new English horror film Pearl which is the prequel to the slasher horror X that released earlier in the year. So then does Pearl manage to scare the living daylights out of you, lets find out.

Story & Screenplay

Pearl follows the origin story of a cold blooded yet intimidating story of the antagonist from the film X. And so this is a prequel! The story here has broader strokes of films like Mary Poppims or even The Wizard Of Oz with its bright and bold colours that instantly seem very different from a slasher horror. The screenplay at just about a 100 minutes means that the drama is a brisk watch.

The drama opens with a quick introduction of the protagonist(or the antagonist, call it what suits you) against the backdrop of an influenza virus in 1918. You instantly realise that she is controlled by her dominating mother, although not entirely wrong on her part. The opening scene gives the viewers a glimpse of her psychiatric condition that sets the ball rolling perfectly for the drama to follow. The drama is a slow burn, so if you do go into the film expecting a whole lot of chaos filled with gore and blood then this ain’t that film. And this is what sets this prequel apart from some of the other slasher films. The buildup is slow and filled with tension where the writers have targeted three to four scenes in the entire film to sweep you off your feet. These scenes do act like gory set pieces with anger taking precedence every time.

The fear in these scenes is often generating in the viewer’s mind with the writers raising the stakes with every passing moment till the scene reaches a crescendo. This pattern is seen in three scenes in particular where the tension levels keep rising till they reach the pinnacle when all hell breaks loose! The construction of these scenes is fascinating and intriguing and an absolute joy to watch. But herein lies the drawback too.

If you are setting off in constructing a slasher horror, there needs to be enough of it to keep the viewers invested. The writers here go a touch overboard with the buildup. I would directly compare the film to its sequel X that had a fun filled second hour that was thrill a minute stuff! But here there are periods of lull between the spectacular slasher sequences with a slightly underwhelming final act that give you a feeling that something is amyss. But taking nothing away from the screenplay that is intriguing and enticing in more ways than one!

Dialogues, Music & Direction

The dialogues are conversational but I wasn’t in for them anyway! The BGM is sparingly used with many moments of silence that keeping raising the tense moments in the screenplay. The cinematography and production design give a fresh and a vibrant look to a film that sets it apart from other films from this genre. Director Ti West does a wonderful job in piling up the tension in a slow death kind of a buildup which was fascinating and engaging for most parts.

Performances

The performances are really good here. Matthew Sundarland, Tandi Wright and Emma Jenkins-Purro have their moments to shine. David Corenswet is first rate. But the show undoubtedly belongs to Mia Goth as Pearl who is intimidating as much she is pretty here. This was a towering act filled with so many layers and emotions that it did make for a fascinating case study! Brilliant job there!

Conclusion

Pearl is a scary and intimidating portrayal of a fascinating antagonist making it a pretty good watch.

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