Pearl Director and Cast Talk the Unsettling X Movie Origin Story

After nearly a decade away from the horror movie space, filmmaker Ti West returned earlier this year with X, with that film's debut also seeing the surprise reveal that he had already shot a prequel to that film, Pearl. The prequel is set in 1918, more than 50 years before the events of X, with Mia Goth playing the younger version of her antagonist in the slasher, with Goth also having written the film alongside West. More than just an exciting cinematic experiment, Pearl sheds new insight into Goth's character, leaving viewers to wonder if Pearl is abjectly ruthless or merely a product of her circumstances. Pearl lands in theaters on September 16th.

"I definitely think that the Pearl that we meet in Pearl is, definitely, she's a product of her environment and that's what's motivating her throughout the movie, really," Goth shared with about her character. "Had she grown up in a different time, possibly with different parents that were more supportive, encouraging, I don't believe that she would've gone down the route that she goes on and that's really what helped me empathize with her as a character, really. She's not just this cold-blooded killer. She's really just making the best of what she has."

A24 Films describes Pearl, "Filmmaker Ti West returns with another chapter from the twisted world of X, in this astonishing follow-up to the year's most acclaimed horror film. Trapped on her family's isolated farm, Pearl must tend to her ailing father under the bitter and overbearing watch of her devout mother. Lusting for a glamorous life like she's seen in the movies, Pearl finds her ambitions, temptations, and repressions all colliding in this stunning, technicolor-inspired origin story of X's iconic villain."

The film also explores the relationship Pearl has with a young projectionist, played by David Corenswet, who regales her all about the world outside her family's farm. With Pearl's husband serving in World War I, it's unclear what this projectionist's motives are and if he has Pearl's best interests at heart.

"I think he's really trying to help Pearl. We talked about this a little bit and it was much more fun thinking of him as a guy who really just sees opportunities in the world and sees the best, and especially in the midst of a pandemic and just after the war, seeing opportunities in the way film is changing and he sees this young girl show up who is shy and maybe needs some encouragement and he's very happy to give it to her," Corenswet shared of his character's motivation. "I think the flaw is just that he doesn't think through the consequences of casually throwing hope and encouragement and potentially some half-hearted promises, which he probably means in the moment, but there are certainly unintended consequences to that sort of frivolous behavior."

West had previously hinted that he had interest in an X trilogy, and this week saw confirmation that MaXXXine was in development to serve as a sequel to X. Having not revealed that project moving forward, West played coy about addressing a third film.

"A lot of that depends on people liking these movies. I think that, sure, I've thought about it and I've also been making two movies at the same time this year, so it's been a bit hectic, but yeah, I'm optimistic that people will like these movies," the filmmaker cryptically teased about the franchise's future. "I have some more ideas. It'd be fun to tell some more stories about all this stuff."

Despite this one idea being expanded into an entire trilogy, fans shouldn't count on seeing West return to any of the other worlds he has already created to develop follow-ups to earlier efforts.

"It has not made me think differently about [sequels to earlier films], it's just, as soon as the idea for Pearl first came up when we were making X, that I just started thinking about the whole, just as a bigger thing," West admitted. "It stopped being a story about people on a farm and started being a story about a larger thing. And that was unique to this project and unique to the time that it came around."

Pearl lands in theaters on September 16th.

Are you looking forward to the new movie? Let us know in the comments or contact Patrick Cavanaugh directly on Twitter to talk all things horror and Star Wars!