Pearl (2023) vs Scream VI (2023), Slasher of the Week: Matthew Alicoon

In a major week for horror fans with cinemas offering up Pearl and Scream VI. I thought it would be a nice change for myself to review an independent slasher and a mainstream slasher with my verdict on which horror film will give you the most fulfilment going to see.


Running Time: 102 Minutes


Pearl is a prequel to 2022s X and it follows the origin story of the title villain. The film takes place during the 1918 influenza pandemic and follows Pearl as she is driven to the brink of insanity feeling trapped and isolated on the farm, whilst trying to pursue stardom in the Hollywood Industry.

The magnitude of subject matters the film addresses paves the way for a deeply thought-provoking and analytical piece. Expertly, Pearl is a film that can be read in numerous ways regarding what it is truly about thematically. The overarching subject is how success can become prominent yet dwindle due to being held back by psychologically demanding family issues. The film brilliantly taps into the family drama with consistent scene-chewing dialogue between Pearl (Mia Goth) and Ruth (Tandi Wright) that beholds tragic mirroring and masterfully adds the layers of selfish gratitude’s and sacrifice to the film, as the film is about how these perspectives can solidify Pearl’s fragmented state of mind but it taps into the compromises made by families in life through Ruth perfectly. On the final front, as a mental health backlash it portrays the actions in a minimalistic manner, as characters look down on Pearl throughout the film showing signs of worry about the strange and peculiar ways she acts but weirdly the film garners a palpable amount of empathy here, as the notion of being trapped psychologically is masterfully conveyed by Mia Goth throughout the film.

Mia Goth is captivating, transcendent, horrifying but most importantly mesmerising. This is a performance for the ages that should have been considered for the best leading actress category at the recent Academy Awards. Mia Goth dazzles with her emotional complexities of torment and anger, sadness and desperation with intimidation and terror. It is a performance that will stay with you for a long time and hopefully not make you afraid of Mia Goth.

Attributes of Pearl deserve to be highlighted. The colour palette is immensely vibrant reflecting the notion that horror can happen during the day just as impactfully. The strikingly rich silhouettes paint a confined picture of the world. The dance sequence is visually arresting to the eye. The one-take 8 minute monologue is riveting and you cannot take your eyes off the performance and the words being said, as they are a profound perspective as to how someone views life. Stay for the credits too.

Pearl is a slow burn horror that amounts to a really impactful character study on how a broken state of mind can push a headspace that far into darkness. The brutal and sadistic kills are the response to Pearl’s mindset yet character drama is prioritised making for an immersive dive into someone’s psychological chain of thoughts.

Grade: 5/5

Scream VI

Paramount Pictures

Running Time: 123 Minutes

Scream VI follows the core four (Sam, Tara, Mindy and Chad) as they leave Woodsboro behind to start a fresh chapter in New York City. However, a new Ghostface killer is on the loose who is looking to target the surviving legacy members.

Scream VI needs caution when reviewing, as I do not want to spoil the excitement the film possesses.

Overall, the film is an excellent nostalgic entry into the mythos of Scream. Scream VI feels like the No Way Home of the series, as it offers up the opportunity to revisit past Ghostface killers in order to find out who the new killers are. Incidentally, the killer reveal is slightly more predictable than in Scream V but the tie-ins and connections to the previous instalment make perfect sense. The film carries polished red herrings too.

Scream VI deepens the relationship of Sam and Tara in a grounded manner by showing the contrasting responses to the trauma they have gone through. Melissa Barrera and Jenna Ortega both have an enigmatic on-screen presence articulating their continued sisterly dynamic in a sympathetic manner. The character development on Melissa Barrera’s character (Sam Carpenter) is considerably sharpened through the psychological plague she has of killing, as last time she felt almost like a small piece of a big puzzle but now she is a big piece of a bigger puzzle. It was intuitive to set the story a year after previous events, as sequentially character complexities remain realistic and the puzzle expands in interesting ways.

Where the film substantially excels is through the electrifying set pieces that all land a knockout punch. Ghostface has never been more leaner and violent, as the film has insanely gruesome death sequences which show how many areas the knife can be placed. The opening sequence intelligently reinvents the formula. The ladder sequence is pulse-pounding. You can feel the pain in the Gale Weathers fight and the subway sequence is eloquently choreographed from a lighting perspective.

However, a logistical issue with the film is the fact that despite being stabbed various times, certain characters will still be awake and alive like nothing has happened. The realism of Scream VI felt lost with particular survivals, as it suspends your disbelief making the unbelievable literally unbelievable.

Grade: 4.5/5

Verdict: Both films are an immense contrast of horror styles with Pearl being character lead and Scream VI being more Ghostface Lead. Whilst the appeal of Pearl may be niche, Pearl is my choice for slasher film of the week, as it has bold originality which results in the film having a message behind it.

Cast of Pearl

Mia Goth as Pearl

David Corenswet as The Projectionist

Tandi Wright as Ruth

Cast of Scream VI

Melissa Barrera as Sam Carpenter

Jenna Ortega as Tara Carpenter

Jasmin Savoy Martin as Mindy Meeks-Martin

Mason Gooding as Chad Meeks-Martin

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