Spanish filmmaker Alice Waddington makes her grandiose feature debut with the new sci-fi thriller “Paradise Hills” opening on October 25, 2019. The dystopian modern fairy tale stars Emma Roberts as Uma. Uma is a rebellious debutante who wakes up in a fantastic treatment facility. Her roommates are a southern belle Chloe (Danielle Macdonald) and a sullen, anxiety-prone Yu (Awkwafina). Uma soon befriends a pop star named Armana (Eiza González), who is also trapped for the time being at the facility. The surreal, hyper-feminine, and overly ornate center is run by the Duchess (Milla Jovovich), who’s extravagant wardrobe is mash-up of Scarlette O’Hara and Marie Antoinette. Uma soon realizes that the facility located on an island is less of a holistic healing paradise and more of a prison obsessed with a fetishized version of femininity.
The film, written by Nacho Vigalondo (“Timecrimes”) and Brian DeLeeuw (“Daniel Isn’t Real”), is visually enchanting. The sets are decadent and bizarre and the costumes are a brilliant parade of ruffles and harnesses. The film is an allegory of the absurdness of traditional gender roles. “Paradise Hills” is about self-empowerment and finding strength and beauty in your individuality. I recently sat down with director Alice Waddington to discuss the film. She described it perfectly as a fairy tale where the princesses must save themselves. There are no knights in shining armor. I told her how “Paradise Hills” reminded me of Fellini’s “Juliet of the Spirits.” Alice is a unique talent with a highly imaginative eye. She has made a film that is intoxicating to watch while also reminding young women that they can be their own saviors.
CAST: Emma Roberts, Danielle Macdonald, Awkwafina, Jeremy Irvine, Arnaud Valois, Eiza Gonzalez, Milla Jovovich
SYNOPSIS: On an isolated island, Uma (Emma Roberts) wakes up to find herself at Paradise Hills, a facility where high-class families send their daughters to become perfect versions of themselves. The facility is run by the mysterious Duchess (Milla Jovovich) wherecalibrated treatments including etiquette classes, vocal lessons, beauty treatments, gymnastics and restricted diets, revolve all physical and emotional shortcomings within two months. The outspoken Uma finds solace and friendship in other Paradise Hills residents — Chloe (Danielle McDonald), Yu (Awkwafina) and Mexican popstar Amarna (Eiza Gonzalez). Uma soon realizes that lurking behind all this beauty is a sinister secret. It’s a race against the clock as Uma and her friends try to escape Paradise Hills before it consumes them all.