No Vacation in ‘Paradise Hills”

by Christian Ramos on October 26, 2019

in Print Reviews,Reviews

[Rating: Minor Rock Fist Down]

The dystopian idea of tomorrow and how it will affect women, is a very popular topic in the media these days, especially through the lens of film and television. One of the best examples is Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale, based on the novel of the same name, that is set in a future of the United States where women are forced into sexual slavery, to carry children for rich families. The current political climate, alongside the current scandal of abuse of power in Hollywood, further inspires stories with strong female characters fighting back against an oppressive world. 

Paradise Hills, directed by Alice Waddington is another story set on a mysterious island where young girls, led by Uma (Emma Roberts) are sent to be “proper”. The island of course is not as it seems, as many question the institutions true intentions and the mysterious “leader” known as The Duchess (Milla Jovovich). 

I sat on this movie a while, only because I didn’t know how to frame this plot. It’s very complex. There is of course Uma who is sent to Paradise to be proper, she meets Chloe (Danielle Macdonald from Netflix’s Dumplin’) and Yu (Awkwafina), also sent to Paradise to undergo a change. The girls mysteriously fall asleep each night without any memory of how they got back into their beds or anything of the previous night. Those who leave the island are seen in later scenes of the outside world completely different than they left. Uma from the get go understands that the island, The Duchess and those who work for the The Duchess (mostly men who have total control) are shady as hell, and her and her fellow islanders have to escape. 

From this point, the story becomes a bit of a mess. There’s a few scenes involving Uma being raised on a unicorn statue and seeing scenes from the outside. There’s a couple of scenes that mimic Jordan Peele’s Us that I really didn’t understand or grasp.

The first half hour or so of the movie was fine, exploring the island and getting to question why Uma is here, but after that things fall apart fast. There’s a lack of intrigue and even excitement in a movie that feels like it is borrowing from everything. Even the twist that is supposed to be … well a twist, is bland, unoriginal, and at this point is so confusing to why it is even supposed to be there. If there’s a message about trying to change the women of the world into something they’re not if only to please men, it could have been told in a much simpler way, and not on this damn island. Once more cc: The Handmaid’s Tale. 

Paradise Hills is fine to digest for the first few minutes or so, but after a while when Uma constantly questions things, it all gets redundant and the whole point of what the island is and what the whole point of people being on the island, never feels fully developed for anybody to care that much.

Christian Ramos is a classic film fan, having had the dream to host Turner Classic Movies for years now. He also has a large amount of Oscar trivia in his head, remembers dressing as Groucho Marx one Halloween, and cherishes the moment Julianne Moore liked his tweet.

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