Let's Talk About Mia Goth's Most Disturbing Scene In Pearl

This article contains major spoilers for "Pearl."

Ti West blew audiences away with his 1970s-era slasher film "X," which saw Mia Goth in a dual role as budding adult film starlet Maxine Minx, and donning extensive prosthetics to play the psycho-biddy hagsploitation villain of Pearl. Shortly after "X" was becoming an early contender for one of the best horror releases of the year, West and A24 announced that they had already shot a secret prequel film titled "Pearl," which would again star Goth as the youthful version of her elderly character in "X."

As fantastic as Goth had been in films like "X," "Suspiria," and "Emma," her turn as the young and ambitious Pearl is a tour de force, with even cinematic legend Martin Scorsese singing her praises. Goth is featured in every scene in "Pearl," which means the movie lives and dies by the success of her work. Fortunately, Mia Goth gives a performance that should put her in the Oscar conversation for Best Actress, if only the Academy didn't have such a problem with horror.

"Pearl" is a technicolor fever dream, as if Ti West remade "The Wizard of Oz" as a horror movie, with Goth as a deranged version of Dorothy Gale. Desperate to find her "somewhere over the rainbow," Pearl's grasp on reality slips further and further as she pursues her fantastic dreams of leaving her family's farm and becoming a movie star. Pearl will stop at nothing to achieve her dreams, eliminating anything and anyone that stands in the way of her passions. Goth is truly electrifying to watch throughout "Pearl," and her dedication in one particularly disturbing scene will have audiences talking for years.

A haunting end

Set in 1918, the audience is introduced to Pearl as a young woman living on a Texas farm with her German immigrant parents, while her husband Howard is serving in World War I. The influenza pandemic has paralyzed Pearl's father, which means Pearl's domineering mother Ruth (Tandi Wright) has ordered Pearl to take care of him in addition to the farm. It's clear that Pearl feels suffocated by her surroundings, longing for a more glamorous life like she's seen in the movies, and devastated that her husband has gone off to war just as she was finally going to leave the farm.

Pearl is lonely and as sexually frustrated as she is stifled by her general existence, inspiring her to perform questionable acts, like pleasuring herself on top of a scarecrow in the middle of a corn field. It's clear that something isn't quite right with Pearl, but it's difficult not to feel empathetic toward her pain.

Everything changes for Pearl after she meets The Projectionist (David Corenswet), a so-called bohemian who works at the local theater and convinces Pearl that the two should travel to Europe and get in the business of filming stag films. Pearl sees this as her way out of her oppressive circumstances, and will stop at nothing to see these dreams realized. She begins lying, stealing, and breaking the rules set by her mother, whose overbearing presence is in direct conflict with Pearl's plans to leave. One day, after being pushed to her limit, Pearl finally snaps and descends on a journey of murder, mayhem, and a haunting monologue confession, culminating in a devastating final moment that lingers throughout the end credits.

The most disturbing moment

"Pearl" is filled with unsettling moments, but the most disturbing happens when she is finally confronted by Ruth regarding her behavior. Pearl has been keeping it hidden that she's been using the change from picking up her father's medication to buy tickets to the movies, but after Ruth finds the program from her daughter's last outing, she announces that Pearl will no longer be allowed to leave the farm, and must spend all of her time helping with the animals and caring for her father. Pearl screams in her mother's face about how she's a star and aspires for more, with Ruth screaming back about how sometimes we don't get what we want out of life. The two's argument escalates to the point of making threats on each other's lives, their intensity only matched by a thunderstorm raging outside.

The scene is lit mostly by the flames burning in the fireplace, which makes the two's screaming match feel like something has erupted from the bowels of hell and overtaken them. Pearl eventually pushes Ruth into the kitchen hearth, which catches the skirt of her dress and she is overtaken in flames. Ruth's burning body illuminates the room, as Pearl realizes what she's done and as her infirmed father looks on in horror, incapable of escaping the situation. Ruth is covered in life-threatening burns and rather than seek help, Pearl drags her mother to the basement and locks her in, sealing her fate. The scene thrives by the powerhouse performances of Goth and Wright, but shows the fullest extent of Pearl's violent tendencies.

She has passed the point of no return.