The slasher horror film Pearl (2022), which Ti West directed and co-wrote with Mia Goth, is a prequel to the movie X (2022), also directed by the same director. Pearl‘s events occurred 60 years before those in X.
The story centers on Pearl, the antagonist bearing the title. She is responsible for looking after both her father and their family farm. But her desperate desire to become a dancing star drives her to commit terrible incidents.
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Pearl Movie Ending Explanation and Plot Story in Details
* * * Spoiler Alert – If you haven’t seen the movie yet, turn back now! * * *
The story takes place in 1918, during the ongoing First World War and Spanish flu pandemic. Pearl, along with her parents, lives on a farmstead in Texas. Her loneliness is exacerbated by the letters she gets from her husband, Howard, who left her to fight in the war.
Ruth, Pearl’s dictatorial mother, expects Pearl to take care of her father and the farm animals on her own. However, Pearl has other plans, as she continues to daydream about becoming a movie star. She attempts to perform like a star in front of the farm animals, making them her sole audience.
In the beginning of the movie, the plot shows her ruthlessness as she kills a goose and feeds it to Theda, her pet alligator. Further, she tries to hurt her father physically by choking him. Her mother, Ruth, observes her moves and is well aware that their daughter aspires to be a film dancer. She, however, discourages Pearl from pursuing that dream since they are German immigrants living there.
The plot of the film is set at a time when the Spanish influenza pandemic is a global concern. Pearl’s mother sends her to town to buy medicine for her father. Reaching there, she buys medicine and sneaks into a cinema hall. She watches performing showgirls on the screen and dreams of becoming one of them. Outside the theater, she meets a young projectionist, Johnny.
Johnny makes some compliments on Pearl’s beauty and her dreams of being on the screen like the dancers she’s just seen. On the way back home, she stops at a cornfield and makes love with a scarecrow, fantasizing about the projectionist she’s just met.
At this point, the movie story showcases her loneliness when her husband is not with her and her tiresome life in a farmhouse. She just makes out with the lifeless scarecrow, denying the reality she is forced to survive with.
Pearl’s mother appears to be very strict because of her spendthrift behavior and punishes her for being careless at such a difficult time. Pearl learns from her sister-in-law, Mitsy, that there will be an audition to find new dancers. She wishes to attend the audition and demonstrate her dancing capabilities.
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Later, she visits the projectionist again, and he inspires her to pursue her latent dream. Pearl doesn’t want to leave her parents, but wants to pursue her dream. However, she eventually realizes that she must choose between her parents and her dream career.
At the dinner table, an argument between Pearl and her mother leads to a physical assault. She pushes her mother down, and her dress catches fire unintentionally. Pearl puts her burned and nearly-dead mother down in the basement and flees to the projectionist.
The next day, Pearl and the projectionist return to the farmhouse, and terrible events begin to happen. Pearl kills the projectionist out of rage, suspecting that he is abandoning her like everyone else. Later, his corpse is fed to her pet alligator, Theda. Also, she smothers her father to death after getting herself prepared for the dance audition.
She feels shattered after being rejected in her dance audition since she is not a blonde and is not young enough in the eyes of the judges. When Pearl returns home with her sister-in-law Mitsy, she confesses her bitter feelings for her husband, Howard. Misty is also forced to confess about winning the audition over Pearl. With jealousy and frustration, Pearl chases her until she falls on the sidewalk and kills her using an ax. Again, this time, Mitsy’s body parts are fed to the alligator, Theda.
Eventually, Pearl comes to the realization that her mother was right and she should’ve listened to her earlier. She then decides to rectify her misdeeds by creating a homely environment for Howard before he returns from the war. All of a sudden, Howard returns the next morning and becomes terrified upon finding the corpses of Pearl’s parents at the dining table. Seeing Howard unexpectedly after a long time, Pearl bears a prolonged and painful smile on her face.
What happens at the end of Pearl?
The film starts with the portrayal of Pearl’s repetitive and stressed life, which shows her suppressive and imprisoned way of life, restricted by her domineering mother. The scarcity of love, attention, and community makes her feel hopeless.
To fill this void, she thinks of escaping this morbid life through fame and stardom. She aspires to be a movie star and earn love and admiration from the audience. She feels the only thing that would prevent her from becoming a star is her mother.
With a psychopathic mind, she ingeniously finds sinister ways to eliminate her obstacles. After getting abandoned by the projectionist and rejected by the dance audition judges, she eventually feels that nothing is left in her life. And that feeling urges her to kill almost all of her close acquaintances. She coldly murders her parents, projectionist Johnny, and sister-in-law Mitsy.
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However, she eventually realizes her mother was correct about her. She tries to fix everything before Howard’s arrival by setting a dining table with a rotting pig and nicely-dressed dead parents beside that table. Finally, when Howard arrives and fetches Pearl, he gets horrified after seeing what’s ahead.
Why does Pearl smile at the end of the movie?
Basically, Pearl’s rage stems from temptation, suppression, envy, vanity, regret, and a lack of love and attention in her mundane captivated life. She was densely obsessed with stardom, fame, admiration, and sexual freedom.
When Howard arrives home, Pearl welcomes him with a prolonged and grievous smile with tears. She tries to hold that smile for a prolonged time even though, deep down, she is rotting, just like the pig on the dining table she has set.
That iconic smile on her face speaks a thousand words. She is well aware that no matter how hard she tries to mend things, her sick and psychopathic mind will not allow her to live a normal life with her husband again. Her creepy smile implies her guilt over her past actions and regrets over losing her parents because of her barbarous killing spree.
What was wrong with Pearl’s dad?
Pearl’s father, mute and handicapped, demonstrates a character who becomes burdensome in Pearl’s life. He is wheelchair-bound and incapable of moving or reacting. Pearl’s disappointment over her father is shown from the beginning of the film. And that feeling urges her to choke her father and feed him alive to her pet alligator. In the end, Pearl killed her father without any remorse before heading to her dance audition.
Director Ti West’s slasher horror film X (2022) made an incredible impact on the horror movie industry. X portrays some young adults in a group intended to produce mature films, while the prequel Pearl reveals the titular character, represented in the beginning as an obedient and caring girl. Later, she is found lusting for stardom and harboring murderous thoughts toward anyone who might pose a threat to her ambition.
Original Title: Pearl
Genre: Horror/ Slasher
Runtime: 1hr 43min
Original Language: English
Written & Directed by Ti West
Tagline: Before X, meet Pearl for the first time.
Release date: September 16, 2022 (USA)
Origin Country: United States