Pearl ending explained: All she really wanted was to be loved

A melodramatic descent into madness painted in technicolor, delving into the world of Pearl: An X-traordinary Origin Story.
PEARL. (L-R) Mia Goth - Credit: Christopher Moss
PEARL. (L-R) Mia Goth - Credit: Christopher Moss /

MaXXXine is the latest Ti West x Mia Goth collaboration, and it's coming soon to theaters. A continuation of the acclaimed X film series, the third movie in the trilogy is a direct sequel to the 2022 film that started it all. Reactions to MaXXXine have been almost unanimously positive, with all three films in the trilogy achieving the rare feat of nabbing Certified Fresh seals of approval from Rotten Tomatoes and scoring above a 90% approval score.

Pearl: An X-traordinary Origin Story stands out from the trilogy in that it takes us back to a rural Texan homestead in 1918 to meet X’s primary antagonist as a young woman. Goth pulled double duty in X, portraying both the older version of Pearl and rising young adult film star Maxine Minx. She reprises her role as Pearl in the self-titled origin story. 

Stylish, gruesome, and moored by yet another breathtaking Mia Goth performance, Pearl is every bit as entertaining as X but with a more intimate approach.

PEARL. (L-R) Mia Goth - Credit: Christopher Moss /

Pearl's descent into madness

Like X and its connection to 1970s exploitation horror films, Pearl wears its inspirations with pride. Viewers will instantly notice the many references and homages to The Wizard of Oz, including Pearl herself acting as a twisted version of Dorothy. Pearl's melodramatic aspects are a direct nod to the works of German filmmaker Douglas Sirk, heralded for his usage of striking technicolor and distinct style, such as in films like Magnificent Obsession and Written on the Wind.

The melodrama makes the film work so well, allowing Goth to deliver a show-stopping, almost theatrical, performance between her audition breakdown, her lengthy monologue scene with Mitzy, and the final end credits sequence.

Ultimately, the catalyst that causes Pearl’s sanity to spiral downward is losing the audition she’s fantasized about throughout the movie. A potential escape route out of her humdrum life with an abusive mother, Pearl cannot handle her dreams being shattered. Her sister-in-law, Mitzy, attempts to comfort her, but it only results in Pearl confessing to murder, infidelity, and more horrors that leave poor Mitzy traumatized. 

Pearl gets Mitzy to admit to booking the audition, although it's left up to the audience to decide whether Mitzy is telling the truth. Did she really get the part? Or was she just saying whatever Pearl wanted in the hopes of escaping? Unbeknownst to Mitzy, her fate was probably already sealed the second she entered Pearl's house.

The more Pearl rambles, the more Mitzy realizes her sister-in-law is seriously unwell. Unease mounting, Mitzy does her best to leave, but it’s too late for her. Pearl grabs an ax and gives chase, brutally murdering Mitzy in broad daylight and later feeding her dismembered body to Theda, the alligator.

PEARL. (L-R) Mia Goth - Credit: Christopher Moss /

Howard enters, stage right

With Mitzy dead, Pearl has now murdered everyone in her life, including The Projectionist and her parents. She takes strange comfort in curling up beside her mother’s lifeless body, her version of an apology, though it’s not much of one now that Ruth is dead. 

In atonement for her many sins, Pearl decides to try being a homemaker and welcome her husband Howard back from war with open arms. The final scene shows Howard walking into the house to be me with the grisly scene of Pearl’s dead parents around a dinner table laden with rotten food. 

Pearl greets him with an “I’m so happy you’re home.” Like the nightmarish inversion of The Donna Reed Show. The cherry on top is Goth’s demented grimace, which she somehow maintains through the entire credits sequence—a suitably uncomfortable visual representation of her sanity slippage. 

Now that Pearl has given up on her dreams, she's trying to make her life on the homestead worthwhile. As seen in X, that doesn't work out for her, and she spends her life trapped in resentment. Even Howard joins her, turning into a killer just like his wife later in life.

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