All Roads to Pearla is a thriller with a lot of promise. It has great characters, a perfectly dreary setting, and an interesting plot. However, these elements don’t quite come together and produced a thriller that was less thrilling than it could have been. 

All Roads to Pearla follows Brandon (Alex MacNicoll), a talented high school wrestler, as he dreams of a better life. Following an injury, he gets entangled with Pearla (Addison Timlin), a beautiful prostitute and her psychopathic lover. From there, lives are intertwined and spiral violently out of control once he agrees to become her escort driver. I will say that the setting was incredible. The town is quite depressing and all the residents carry with them an air of sadness. It is in this sadness and depression we see just what these seemingly average folks are capable of. 

The texture of the film is incredibly gritty and dark. The color palette is dominated by tans, grays, blacks, and browns. Lights are always dim and rooms are rarely (if ever) ever clean. This adds to the already poignant impression we glean about the town and its residents. This place is a prison and its citizens are prisoners; angry, dejected, and looking for any escape (both mentally and physically). The music (especially the cover of The Pixies- “Where is my Mind?”) aids in the creation of this overtly creepy, sad, and hopeless atmosphere.

The entire cast did a wonderful job. Collectively they were able to create a town no one would ever want to reside or vacation in and I applaud them in their efforts. Special recognition should be given to MacNicoll and Timlin. MacNicoll delivers a dynamically ranged performance. Behind his stoicism, we see a world of hurt and a whirlwind of emotion which adds to the character and the story. Timlin delivers an emotionally raw performance leading the cast of emotionally distraught characters. Though the cast did a great job, the characters themselves never fully develop. So we are able to appreciate the performances but do not necessarily feel a deep connection to them as they navigate their plights. 

In addition to inadequate character development, the unfulfilled storylines were a real disappointment. I LOVED the side stories and the characters that lied within them. The wrestling coach with pedophilic predilections (Nick Chinlund), Brandon’s emotionally abusive mother (Tina Parker), the death of Brandon’s sibling, high school bullying, and Oz, the pimp running Pearla’s life (Dash Mihok) are all characters and side stories introduced but they all feel unfinished. We see the completion of some of these stories, however their ends did not satisfy the need for more information about the characters and the interconnectedness some of them shared. Exploring these stories would have enhanced the overall plot and may have passively explained some unanswered questions.

There is a tension present in the film the entire time. A slow burn leaving you on the edge of your seat. However, this burn is never fully quelled. Certain details feel glossed over and never revisited. I especially felt this way once I saw the ending. BUT, there is a mid-credits final scene which was crucial to understanding the remainder of the story. I am so glad I didn’t miss it because the ending was the perfect final chapter to a very dark and emotionally heavy book. So if you choose to watch the film, be sure to watch the credits. 

All Roads to Pearla feels like a treasure map but we only have one piece of. I followed the roads we were given and while I had an enjoyable adventure, I have ultimately come up empty-handed. The roads may lead to Pearla and perhaps if we had gotten to see the entire map maybe this treasure hunt would have been even more satisfying. 


Movie Rating: 6 out of 10

All Roads to Pearla
Runtime: 1hr. 48 Mins.
Directed By:
Written By: