What would you do to become a big, big star? No matter how devious, it’s likely kid’s stuff in comparison to the lengths Pearl (Mia Goth), the eponymous star of Ti West’s prequel to his acclaimed horror film X, will happily go to.
“Please lord, make me the biggest star the world has ever seen, so I can make it far, far away from this place,” a young Pearl devoutly prays by her bedside, as B-roll shots introduce us to earlier years on Pearl’s rural white farmhouse first introduced in X. Pearl lives in the picturesque spot with her paraplegic father and cold, strict mother—but in her dreams, she’s in a big screen picture, dancing and scatting with the best of them in a glamorous red dress.
It’s somewhere between her dreams of stardom and her disillusionment with her life at home that things start to go murderously wrong. Pearl already isn’t bothered with helping along natural selection—we watch her stab a goose with her trusty pitchfork and feed it right off the skewer to an alligator in the nearby pond. Earlier on, she contemplates pushing her father into the same waters after wishing aloud to a confidante that they would “just die.” “What did you say?” he responds, but Pearl already has her guard back up: “Nothing.”
Although in classic A24 fashion the teaser relies more on artfully horrific imagery than plot details, what is certain is that Pearl gets her hands bloody. The trailer hints that, like the characters in X, Pearl finds herself participating in a porno (billed to her as a type of film “nobody else has seen” by a slightly lecherous director). Sure, she’s a little confused, but Pearl wants to be a star— she’s already so desperate for her big break she’s considered making her father amphibian food, and competition from a curly-headed blonde ingenue proves too much to bear. Whether it’s with a slightly different lipstick shade or full-on murder—no one’s more determined than Pearl to achieve that X factor.
Pearl will hit theaters this fall, on September 16.