It’s her world, we’re just living in it.
I am terrified of Mia Goth. And I mean that in the best way possible.
The 28-year-old actor has recently cemented herself as nothing less than a modern horror icon, while disrupting tired tropes and serving insidiously captivating red carpet fashion along the way. And it’s all because of her starring roles in Ti West’s stylistic slasher trilogy comprising the movie X, its newly released prequel Pearl and the upcoming final installment MaXXXine. In this franchise, Mia Goth—who plays both the victim and the villain—knows exactly what she’s doing.
Set in the 1970s, X (released in March 2022) follows a group of free-spirited young adults who rent a cabin on a farm to make a porn film. The only problem? They have to do it without being caught by the puritanical elderly couple who owns the acreage. As you might have guessed, chaos ensues. Spoilers ahead.
In the film, Mia Goth plays Maxine, a young actress with hopes of becoming the next big star. But she also plays Pearl, the elderly woman who seeks violent revenge on the filmmakers. She flips between an effortlessly beautiful, sexually liberated character to a prosthetics-donning older woman who feels she’s losing her femininity. And often, Goth gives these performances in the same scene.
Unsurprisingly, the prequel, Pearl (in theatres September 16) is already making waves. Set in 1918, it follows the titular villain in her younger years as she tries to pursue a career in showbiz. While X hones in on the horror of living a life unfulfilled, Pearl spotlights the lengths required to achieve one’s dreams. Crucially, both call attention to the inescapable passage of time. I can’t help but feel the spine-chilling air of the films come to life off-screen, too.
On the red carpet, Mia Goth’s looks are severe and layered, just like her roles. When attending the Pearl premiere at TIFF, she donned a lace look with dark lipstick and a subdued black veil covering her face. It should be noted that the ensemble was designed by Dolce & Gabbana, a brand with its own disturbing associations. Overall, it’s a style that screams, “funeral, but make it a fashion show.”
In fact, most of Goth’s promotional outfits for Pearl have fallen into Chic Widow territory. At the Venice International Film Festival, she attended the film’s photo call in an all-black Dolce & Gabbana getup comprising a corset, mesh opera gloves and a head scarf paired with oversized shades. Later the same day, she emerged onto the red carpet in a velvet gown with romantic goth mesh detailing. It’s giving drama, and we should expect nothing less.
I mean, horror, at its core, is about garnering a fantasy—albeit, an unwanted one. And Mia Goth, by expertly switching between opposing roles and bringing her films’ morose tones to life on the red carpet, is serving us gloomy icon imagery.
The slasher genre historically punishes women for being sexually liberated, while sparing those who are most innocent. But in X, hedonistic Maxine is far from a “perfect” victim, and yet, she is the only person in her group to survive. With MaXXXine, which is reportedly set after X, viewers will get to see Maxine’s quest to become a star. By showcasing how any cliché character can be complex and nuanced, the actor is redefining the meaning of the “final girl” in horror.
Mia Goth is killing it, in more ways than one. As Pearl hits theatres and MaXXXine promises a final look into the eerie X universe, we have learned to expect the unexpected from the bonafide queen of horror. I, for one, am simply grateful to be along for the ride.