Pearl never detailed why Howard stayed with Pearl, especially after the ending when he saw what his wife was capable of.
Ti West’s Pearl was the surprising prequel to his original slasher film, X, which is the film about the origin story of the titular character of the original, Pearl.
The prequel details how she came to be the murderous killer that we met in the events of X, as it is set 60 years before the 1979 events of the original film.
While the horror prequel endeavoured to provide answers in terms of the relationship dynamics between Pearl and her husband, Howard, the film arguably failed to do so due to its open-ended conclusion, which has only led to speculation about why Howard stayed with Pearl.
Why was Pearl released six months after X?
Pearl was released in theatres in September 2022, but the biggest surprise was the turnaround between the release of the prequel, as X was released in March 2022.
It is reported that the quick turnaround was on account of the fact that Ti West had written Pearl while they were filming X.
Moreover, Mia Goth agreed to shoot the prequel immediately after playing Maxine X on X. As such, the belief was the back-to-back releases would amplify the promotional run prior to the release of the prequel.
Pearl: Why did Howard stay with Pearl?
By the time Pearl starts, Pearl and Howard are already married. Moreover, Howard does not feature much in this film as he is away serving as a soldier during the tail end of World War l. However, what is clearly established in the film is that Howard is in love with his wife.
As the horror film plays out, Pearl kills her mother, father, The Projectionist with whom she had an affair, and Mitzy, who is the last person that she kills.
Having lost her dream of stardom and making it out of the life that she was living and that she was unhappy with, Pearl dresses up her dead parents and has dinner with them.
During this dinner, Howard walks into their home to find Pearl surrounded by the dead bodies of her parents, which she killed.
The film cuts to the end credits at this point with Howard never having said a word. It is through X that we know that Howard stayed with Pearl after he found out. More than just staying with his wife, Howard helps his wife with her murders in X.
As such, fans wished that Pearl did not cut at the moment where Howard walked in and saw the murderous actions of his wife.
For viewers, a little more exposition in that moment would have helped them understand why Howard decided to stay with his wife. As such, this has allowed for speculation and theories to be made about why Howard stayed.
Where to watch online Pearl: An X-traordinary Origin Story?
Theory 1: Howard was afraid of Pearl
Imagine walking in from a war to find that your wife has killed your in-laws and is sitting with their dead bodies having dinner with a smile on her face.
What would you do? If you were Howard, you might not want to rattle your wife with insecurities that you would turn her in. Therefore, you pretend as if nothing is wrong and continue living happily ever after as a subsequent accomplice to her murders.
This is the first theory, that Howard was so afraid that Pearl would kill him too that he decided to stay and help her with her murderous actions.
Theory 2: Howard believed that he could change Pearl
What Pearl made extremely clear was that Howard was in love with his wife. Therefore, when he discovered who she really was, it is theorised that instead of fearing his wife, Howard thought that he could love her enough for her to stop her murderous ways.
But as evidenced with the events of X, he could not. Therefore, upon discovering that he could not change her ways, Howard decided to stay and help his wife with her subsequent murders.
Theory 3: Howard suffered from PTSD
This is just our theory, but what if Howard experienced post-traumatic stress disorder from the events that he witnessed while he was deployed in World War l.
Since we are not made aware of what he went through during his time away, what if the character experienced certain traumatic events that caused his irrational response of accepting the actions of his wife, which was not based on what he saw when he walked in.
Instead, what if his response is intended to repress all the events that he experienced when he was away. This would tie in with the overall theme of the horror of repression.