X (2022) Ending, Explained: Why Is Pearl on a Killing Spree?

Ti West’s horror film ‘X’ mixes gratifying sexuality with blood-splattering horror, essaying a modern take on the classic slasher genre. The story follows adult film producer Wayne, his shining star Maxine, and their film crew as they book out a farm cabin to film their movie. Nonetheless, what was supposed to be a fun and flirty shoot turns into a nightmare when the film crew’s oblivious renter, an old Texan couple, Howard and Pearl, discover their film’s true subject matter. As a result, a night of blood and gore follows as Maxine and her coworkers attempt to flee from the vast, empty farmland with their lives. The film delivers an enjoyable narrative with a satisfying ending that wraps up the character’s storylines. However, it also introduces a number of details that may leave viewers curious to know more. SPOILERS AHEAD!

X Plot Synopsis

In Houston, Texas, a town notorious for its seemingly never-ending string of televangelists condemning the sinful, Maxine Minx is an entertainer who works in adult films that her boyfriend, Wayne, produces. The man is convinced that Maxine has the rare X factor that can make her a star. However, before he can get her foot in Hollywood’s famed doors, he has to showcase her appeal, even if through a pornographic medium. As such, Wayne assures her that his newest project, “The Farmhand’s Daughter,” would succeed, given the filmmaker RJ’s artistic and tasteful vision.

Thus, Wayne and his crew, including actors Bobby-Lynne and Jackson, alongside RJ’s more chaste girlfriend, Lorraine, make their way to the shooting location. Upon arriving on the farmland, Wayne initially receives a hostile welcome from an armed old man, Howard. Nevertheless, the two men sort out the misunderstanding, with the latter calming down once he realizes Wayne is the renter he has been waiting for.

Yet, after taking in his crew’s promiscuous wardrobe, Howard realizes the nature of Wayne’s project and declares his displeasure at the situation. Still, with more cash to sweeten the pot, Wayne manages to persuade the old man, who leaves them to their devices with only a warning to stay away from his similarly aged wife, Pearl. Although RJ’s girlfriend, a new addition to the group, remains uncomfortable with the situation, they start with the shooting.

While Bobby-Lynne and Jackson film their scenes, Maxine wanders outside for a skinny dip in the property’s lake, perfectly obvious to the alligators that circle her. After her swim, uninterrupted by any reptiles, Maxine retreats to the cabin. Yet, on her way over, she spots Pearl outside the main house, beckoning her inside. Maxine visits Pearl’s house out of politeness, accepting her lemonade invitation. The woman is old and frail, with wispy hair and wrinkly skin. Maxine, who remains uncomfortable for the visit’s duration, finally gets a chance to escape after Howard returns to the house. Sneaking back to the cabin and a little rattled by Pearl’s odd behavior, Maxine indulges in some drugs before filming her own scenes for RJ’s film.

However, during Maxine’s steamy scenes with Jackson, the girl glimpses Pearl staring at her from the cabin window. As evening falls, Lorraine becomes curious about the crew and their industry, voicing a few questions. Ultimately, she concludes that she wishes to shoot a scene in the film as well, charmed by the artistic approach to something she thought was pure smut. RJ tries to contest his girlfriend but to no avail. As a result, filming Lorraine having sex with Jackson leaves the filmmaker troubled.

For the same reason, RJ storms out of the cabin in the middle of the night, planning to abandon the crew and his girlfriend on the remote farm. Nevertheless, before his van can leave, he sees Pearl’s haunting silhouette on the farm. The old woman attempts to seduce RJ and kills him once he tries to steer away from her advances. Thus begins Pearl’s killing spree, with the woman going after the crew members and delivering them to their swift and cruel deaths.

X Ending: What is Pearl’s Motive?

While Pearl remains a menacing presence throughout the film from her first appearance as a haunting shadow in a window, her true horror emerges after she ruthlessly slashes RJ’s throat open. Moreover, the woman doesn’t stop at the simple kill and continues to stab his corpse repeatedly as if gaining pleasure from it. Furthermore, after satisfying her murderous desire, the woman shows no signs of stopping. Instead, she snatches the van’s car keys, effectively cutting out any means of exit for the group.

Pearl’s quick thinking further cements her homicidal intent before going for the kill. Afterward, the woman delivers Wayne to his death, catching the man off-guard in a barn, where she stabs him through the eye before circling back to needlessly prod at his body with a pitchfork. By then, Howard realizes his wife has undertaken a killing spree, showcasing the consistency of such an event in their lives. The same is further proven when Howard equips an oblivious Jackson’s help to search for his wife, and the latter comes across a half-drowned car in the lake.

The ominous car suggests that the couple has previously attacked people who have passed through their farm before. Likewise, Lorraine sets out to find RJ but falls victim to Howard’s trickery, ending up locked in the basement with a bloodied corpse hanging naked from the ceiling. As such, these details establish Pearl’s murderous streak, conveying that the group’s promiscuity alone didn’t trigger the woman’s bloodthirst.

Nevertheless, the same certainly plays a part in the same, considering Pearl’s infatuation with Maxine and her perfect young body. Previously, while cryptically reminiscing about her glory days over lemonade, Pearl lingers over her wedding photograph, which sports the woman in her youth striking a noticeable resemblance to Maxine. Therefore, as per Pearl’s own admission, Maxine reminds the older woman of her own old days.

In her youth, Pearl held the rare spark that Maxine now holds as well. Yet, with time, the same withered away, leaving her as an old woman whose own lover is reluctant to satisfy her sexual desires for fear of medical consequences. Pearl craves the love and attention she once easily commanded in her youth, as Maxine and her friends do now. Therefore, since she can’t have the same, she covets the others for it and strives to rob them of it. For the same reason, she assaults a sleeping Maxine, touching her naked skin and yearning to be close to her. However, the same is hardly enough of a fix for her, especially once the other woman wakes screaming. Thus, she resorts to satisfying her morbid sexual desires by channeling them into her homicidal cravings, as depicted by her shoving Bobby-Lynne into the alligator-infested lake.

Ultimately, Pearl’s covetous, bitter jealousy, which manifests as bloodthirst, comes to a peak with her lust as she finally convinces Howard to have sex with her after the couple finishes killing nearly every crew member. Although her husband remains reluctant to his weak heart’s reaction to such a robust activity, he gives in. The same allows Maxine an opportunity to slip away from the cabin and attempt to flee for her freedom.

Who Survives?

By the end, Pearl and Howard manage to kill almost everyone from Wayne’s film crew save for Maxine and Lorraine. The latter becomes a prisoner early on her nightly exit from the cabin when Howard locks her in the basement, compelling her to stay inside despite the gruesome corpse. As for Maxine, the woman comes close to winning her freedom by running to the van while Pearl and her husband are distracted.

Nevertheless, in order to escape, Maxine needs the car keys that Pearl has hidden away. Furthermore, she overhears Lorraine’s screams for help, making a run for the other woman. However, once Maxine rescues the younger woman from the basement, Lorraine blows up at her, unable to properly deal with the night’s trauma. She insists her misfortune is a fruit of the crew’s promiscuous ways and attempts to storm out of the house in her mania.

As such, Lorraine ends up running straight into Pearl and Howard, and the latter shoots her down. Yet, the abrupt action and the previous strain of having sex in his old age manifests brutally in Howard, who dies of a heart attack. While Pearl attempts to hold onto her lover, Maxine emerges with the gun she procured from Wayne’s glove compartment. Thus, holding Pearl at gunpoint, Maxine demands the van’s keys.

Still, once Maxine retrieves the keys, signifying her freedom, Pearl continues taunting the other woman, insisting she’s no better than her. The insistent comparison between Maxine profiting off her sexuality and Pearl’s murderous crimes pushes the former to her edge. As such, she pulls the trigger on Pearl. Nonetheless, Maxine only realizes that the gun is empty, as previously established by Wayne.

Pearl snatches the chances and attempts to shoot at Maxine with Howard’s gun, but the recoil sends her flying out of the front door and breaks her hip. Thus, Maxine is able to simply walk away unscathed and pile onto her van to leave the nightmarish farm behind. Yet, Pearl continues spitting venomous hate at her, prodding at the younger woman’s insecurities by claiming her spark will eventually fade, just as it did for Pearl.

As a result, Maxine backs the van into Pearl to run the old woman’s head under the car’s tire twice before driving away. Ultimately, delivering the final kill of the slasher, Maxine becomes the night’s sole survivor.

Who Is Maxine’s Father?

As the film ends with Maxine’s survival, it leaves the audience with one extra bit of information that compels them to wonder about the protagonist’s future. Throughout the film, a televangelist’s program runs in the background on Pearl and Howard’s old-timey television. On the program, a Christian preacher discusses the condemnable lifestyle of people who commit lustful sins and seduce others to their immoral ways.

Particularly, the preacher mentions a daughter whom such sinners had seduced and taken away from his family. In the end, the television program finally unveils the face of the preacher’s daughter, Maxine. The detail is paralleled by another crucial moment in the film, wherein Lorraine decides to partake in Wayne’s pornographic film and takes off her cross necklace before the shoot.

Nonetheless, unlike Lorraine, Maxine went into the life of an adult entertainer solely to gain fame and make a name for herself. The same motif between religion and a sinful chase after fame is repeated constantly through Maxine’s character, who often mutters her mantra, “I will not accept a life I do not deserve,” a Bible verse to explain her actions. Thus, the final detail adds a layer of nuance to Maxine’s character, compelling the viewers to wonder where life may take her after the night, even as she embarks on her continued pursuit of stardom.

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