halsey and mia goth walking next to each other on hollywood boulevard

A Refresher on ‘X’ and ‘Pearl’ Before You See ‘MaXXXine’

Fans of horror movies are being treated well this summer. The next movie to sink your teeth into is MaXXXine, the third installment in Ti West’s horror franchise, and you should probably watch both previous movies before diving into MaXXXine.

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Fans are getting ready to experience MaXXXine in theaters now but if you have already watched the first two films and need a little refresher, we have you covered! It’s a pretty simply story leading up to the third film but it is important to remember what happened to Maxine Minx (Mia Goth) at the hands of Pearl (Goth).

The horror trilogy started back in 2022 with X and then the prequel, Pearl. So technically, MaXXXine is the only sequel to X. We’ve been waiting two years to see what West had in store for us, so let’s revisit what happened in the first two films before we head to the theaters!

X (2022)

Mia Goth in a scene from the film 'X.' She is a young white woman seated at a make-up table with large bulbs around the mirror. Her arms are folded on the table as she looks over her shoulder. She has long, brown hair and is wearing a red, black, and white striped tube top. It's a 1970s period look.

The ’70s slasher-inspired film X introduced audiences to Maxine. Maxine and her friends are heading to a farm to film a new porno movie called The Farmer’s Daughters. There, Maxine finds herself the subject of an older woman’s obsession.

Pearl, who owns the farm with her husband Howard, apparently looked exactly like Maxine when she was young (and, notably, Pearl is also played by Mia Goth, in heavy age prosthetics). Those on the film shoot, whose relationships are showing some cracks, find themselves at odds with the couple, with Pearl eventually murdering them all, except for Maxine, in a killing spree.

The entire movie, Howard is afraid his heart will give out, so he won’t have sex with Pearl. They finally do have sex, and he survives, but he dies of a heart attack because the dying breath of a member of the film crew scares him. Iconic, really.

The battle is then between Pearl and Maxine, with the latter winning out in the end, ready for a sequel. Meanwhile, Maxine’s father, an evangelical preacher played by Simon Prast, has been seen on TV throughout the film. As Maxine’s father is loudly talking on the television, Maxine quotes him word for word as she fights off Pearl, runs out the front door, and eventually runs over Pearl’s head with a van. These little connections tie X with Pearl and vice versa, but X is very important to watch if you want to see MaXXXine.

Pearl (2022)

Mia Goth in a scene from the film 'Pearl.'

Pearl is more of a character study in how Pearl came to be the murderous woman we saw in X, with Mia Goth now playing the younger version of the character who looks like Maxine—and has the same hopes and dreams of fame, for which she’ll stop at nothing. The difference here is that Pearl tried to put a stop to Maxine’s dreams, and Maxine wasn’t going around murdering people to find her success.

Pearl’s story starts simple enough: She’s a woman who wants to dance, but her mother, Ruth (Tandi Wright), refuses to let her daughter dream. Pearl’s father (Matthew Sunderland) uses a wheelchair after the Spanish flu, and so Pearl has moved home to help out. Her husband Howard (Alistair Sewell) is off at war, and Pearl is trapped with her mother.

But when Pearl goes to see a movie and the projectionist (David Corenswet) is kind to her, the shift in Pearl from a weird girl with a dream to the murderer we know from X begins. Pearl’s determination to get out leads to her mother getting burned alive (by accident, of course), the projectionist getting stabbed with a pitchfork when he tries to leave her, and Pearl killing her father.

All this ends with her big dance audition, and the judges don’t want her because she’s like the other dancers they have. Instead, her sister-in-law Mitsy (Emma Jenkins-Purro) gets it, and Pearl does what Pearl does: She kills her. This is after Pearl told Mitsy about everything she has done, including sleeping with the projectionist, and the movie ends with Howard and Pearl living together on her family farm.

Now, you’re ready to head into MaXXXine primed and ready for the thrilling conclusion!

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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.