Ti West’s New X-hilarating Halloween Movies

Watch new horror movies “Pearl” and “X” to ensure an X-traordinary Halloween night.

Mariana Quezada, Staff Writer

This Halloween, we’re in for a treat. Consider Ti West’s 2022 releases “X” and “Pearl,” for an exhilarating movie night. Both pictures are intertwined, as “Pearl” is the prequel to “X,” explaining the origin story of the latter movie’s antagonist. What’s more, West is currently filming the third installment of this series, entitled “MaXXXine,” which takes place after the events of “X,” and follows the eponymous protagonist, played by his muse, Mia Goth. 

“X” was released first in March 2022. It stars the fiery Mia Goth, Brittany Snow, Jenna Ortega and Kid Cudi. The opening installment of West’s horror trilogy deals with a cast and crew who travels to an elderly couple’s rural Texas house to shoot their adult film. There, chaos ensues after an unlikely murderer attacks the group. 

A slasher film, “X” finely executes a novel take on the genre, simultaneously paying homage to other slasher greats for the ‘70s such as “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (1974). The female performances are outstanding. Jenna Ortega proves to be a worthy “scream queen.” But it’s Mia Goth who demonstrates she is a force to be reckoned with. Her character, Maxine Minx, lights up the screen as an iconic final girl with a southern drawl and a desire for the “whole world to know her name.”

Personally, final girls have always been the most interesting characters in film. 

Early on in “X,” Maxine states what turns out to be her mantra throughout the movie: “I will not accept a life I do not deserve!” 

“X” effectively pulls off horror playing with themes such as fame, youth, and aging. In fact, perhaps the most interesting behind-the-scenes detail is that the antagonist, an elderly woman named Pearl (more on her later), is played by Mia Goth, too. The actress used prosthetics and underwent a 10 hour makeup transformation to perform as Pearl while also playing young Maxine. Her alternating acting between these two roles is seamless. 

The second film, “Pearl” was released nearly six months later in September 2022. The filmmaker revealed it was shot back to back with “X,” which explains the prequel’s early release. “Pearl” tells the origin story of the elderly woman who torments the characters in “X.” From my own perspective, I find this picture to be more captivating and overall better than its predecessor. While they are connected and part of a trilogy, the movies have a different cinematography and approach to horror. Additionally, this prequel is set during World War I, while the first film transpired during the ‘70s. As “X” plays homage to slasher films, “Pearl” clearly does the same with the golden age of Hollywood, evoking the moviemaking magic of that period. Think of Pearl as a less naive, bloodthirsty Dorothy Gale. 

“Please, Mommy, you have no idea what I’m capable of!” Pearl whines to her mother in what I believe will soon become yet another iconic A24 dinner scene (think “Hereditary” or “Midsommar”). 

Yet, both the mother and the audience know, as we witness her descent into madness in this spectacular film. 

Both movies complement each other. Although director Ti West says they can be watched independently, audiences can get a more detailed idea on what I’m calling the Mia Goth Cinematic Universe (trademark MGCU) by watching both. In other words, by making your Halloween movie night a double feature, you can enjoy a thrilling story in full. Besides, they are fresh and fascinating movies that diverge from the typical horror movies found in Halloween watchlists. Why not give them a try?

Besides these two potential pictures, you can count on us anXiously waiting for the third installment of this story, “MaXXXine,” which is currently in production. So, don’t be scared to take West’s hand into his blood-curdling world. “X” is available to watch or rent in various streaming services (Showtime, Prime Video, Apple TV) and “Pearl” is now in theaters, available for Video on Demand (VOD) starting Nov. 15. You can bet you’ll have an X-traordinary time.