When I started watching Paradise Hills, I literally had zero idea what I was walking into. But what I did know, I was pretty amped about, and that was one single fact – Milla Jovovich was in it. You know, Milla… The Gentleman Who Fell? The musician? NO? Oh, wait…that’s not going to work. How about this – Milla Jovovich, from The Fifth Element with Bruce Willis, Zoolander, and Resident Evil? Better. Hahahah. Paradise Hills Movie is Worth Investigating – or how Milla is ALWAYS worth betting on. But take a look at a few stills from this movie – and tell me this isn’t going to be a crazy ride? Crazy good? Crazy bad? But a crazy ride all the same:
So we have Milla, we have crazy visuals, but do we have a decent script? Well, when I saw that it was our buddy Nacho Vigalondo (I’ve chatted with Nacho a couple times before – he’s the writer and director of Timecrimes, as well as Colossal) that had the pen for this film, I was extraordinarily excited to watch. I will say that the film definitely falls tightly within the target films that we hunt for here in THiNC. You know, crazy films that don’t sit idly within the Hollywood mold, but rather break out and try to do something different that will make us all THiNC. (Yeah, I know, that’s lame.) But Paradise Hills definitely does all of those things even if it fails to excel at all of them simultaneously.
The film releases November 1st, so make sure you swing back through when you’ve had a chance to watch the film. I.e., don’t continue on without having watched said film. Deal? Fair enough.
Paradise Hills Quick Walkthrough
Uma (played by Emma Roberts) finds herself “locked up” in an exclusive boarding facility with unknown goals and intentions for intrepid beauty. Paradise Hills lives in this halfway house of futuristic idealism where society is split by a hard line between the “Uppers” and “Lowers.” It’s almost as if we are talking about the knighted and landed gentries of years gone by in England. You are either are one, or you aren’t. And apparently, Uma’s mother is on the verge of not being one anymore. Something about a near bankruptcy that is forcing her to marry Uma off to a man that she doesn’t want to marry. And this – Paradise Hills – apparently is the cure for what ails you. Too fat? No worries, Paradise Hills is here to force feed you (or not feed you) into your ideal weight. Insecure, and unable to be the extrovert the landed gentry and your family needs you to be? Paradise Hills has you covered. And if you are just a brat who doesn’t know how to obey, take orders, be seen and not heard for the troglodyte suitor waiting to marry you, then Paradise Hills really is the place for you.
If this movie is starting to sound like another movie I recently reviewed here at THiNC. then you are spot on. Because this film is extraordinarily similar to Level 16. Similar boarding school feel. Similar jail like correctional facility vibe. Similar hidden ulterior motive with an intriguing finale. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Yet again.
So, these women are here – at this correctional/boarding facility with a propensity to drug its wards, and some hidden goal that just tickles at the backs of our minds. Why does this school allow these women free roam? Why are they so forgiving, if they are, in fact up to something else? The women go to classes, and talk about their mothers. Or not. They are marched off to dinners where they are allowed free rein.
But eventually, Uma and Amarna realize that the milk they drink at dinner each night causes them to sleep the sleep of a Friar Lawrence induced death. (OK, I’m going to stop and just marvel at that last sentence a minute before I move on —— OK, long enough. But that was lit! HAHAHAHAH! I’m going to stop now.) I will be honest, I never really came to a clear understanding as to why the women were drugged each night. They were wheeled here, and they were wheeled there…but outside of that, we were never really given a reason. At least Level 16 gave us a good reason for the druggings. But I’m digressing yet again.
Regardless, after hemming and hawing about whether to run for it or not, to row their way across the river, Amarna is told she is being taken today to be married off. The next day, The Duchess (played by Milla) strategically shows Uma that her secret love (did I mention the two shared a kiss before Amarna left? I forgot that bit didn’t I?) was happily living a life of wonder and merriment without Uma. Hrmm. Are these deepfake videos that are showing Uma untrue? Was Amarna lying to Uma back on the island? What is going on here?
Stop and Think A Moment
I’m going to be honest with you, even with Milla in this movie, up to the 80% point of this movie, I was less than impressed. The dialog was fairly lazy. The tension was too lackluster (for good plot-based reasons – but still, the conflict man! The conflict!). The danger was way too far afield. I started to think that I was going to lose 100 minutes of my life and never get them back. This thing was going to have to absolutely nail this landing. I mean, crush it, in order to make it up to me.
I will say this, we’ve seen a lot of crazy movies here on THiNC. Movies with mind-blowing switchbacks and interesting head fakes. Mindjobs like Uncanny with an ending so full tilt it nearly popped my head clean off. And that is not to mention the post credits reveal that sent said head spinning off into the distance. Or your garden variety mindjob like Ex Machina that gets you coming and going. What could Paradise Hills possibly do that would would rival a decent mindjob movie? And at this point of the movie, I was pretty sure, similarly to XXXXXXXXX, XXXXXXXXXXXX XXXX, and XXXXXXX, (sorry, I just realized I could be spoiling those particular movies for those of you that haven’t seen them yet) everyone was probably going to be skinned alive and used for parts. Or worse, it was all going to be a dream. But I didn’t see this particular ending coming. Per se. Which is where the film got its redeeming value in my mind. It surprised me a bit in its audacity to right hook the audience. Remember, don’t read further unless you’ve seen the movie… AH AH AH, YOU DIDN’T SAY THE MAGIC WORD!!!
Ending of Paradise Hills Explained
OK, so the girls all decide to flee right…and they begin running from the guards. When, surprisingly, they discover a hall of horrors down in the subterranean levels of their little boarding school. Where they find women wrapped in bandages and gauze. And as these women begin pulling off the wrappings on their faces we see that they are them. There is Uma, and Armana, and Yu. And oh, woah, there is a skinny version of Chloe. Huh. What could that possibly mean? But as the pairs begin talking to each other, trying to discover what is going on, they begin to learn that these women are being trained and physically altered to match their replacements. These women have been nabbed off the streets and promised salvation for their families as long as they undergo this hardcore mutilation, in order to become these new counterparts. And the reason for their training is to replace these women that wouldn’t become the compliant young ladies that their families were hoping they’d become.
And after running, and white knights, and what not, The Duchess, in all her supernatural Ivy glory, arrives on the scene and nabs Uma. But then the other Uma arrives saying that The Duchess has the wrong one. Or does she? Now she doesn’t know. Which, is a weird development caused by the memory that Uma shares with the others about her father and how they will never be able to replace her. And The Duchess yells out, “Which one are you?” and Uma says, “I am me!” and then stabs her.
Now, cut to the two Uma’s (or rather, Uma and Anna) boating off into the distance. Then, jump back to the beginning of the film, where Uma is there, with her awful Prince Charming…and the crowd is saying, “You must be so proud of her.” “A husband shouldn’t be kept waiting.” “It’s as if that girl never existed.” And then Uma pulls out a knife and stabs him. Voila, the end.
It isn’t clear if it was Uma or Anna that did the stabbing. I could see where it could be either of them. Both have an axe to grind with the guy. Uma more than Anna. Personally, if I had to pick one, I’d probably say that it was Uma that did the stabbing. She’s definitely been wronged by his family, that is for sure. And another thing – did Uma’s mother actually commit suicide, or was it just Paradise Hills messing with her? I never really understood what really happened there. Anybody got ideas there?
Regardless – the movie seemed to be a literal revolt against the years worth of debutante balls. It was actually a society of forced debutantes. Schools for “polite” behavior. Courteous, and kind demeanors. All to force women to fall in line with the upper class’ perspective of how a woman should act. It’s funny, my mother-in-law attended a debutante ball in Denver. And she thought it was the dumbest thing she ever did. She didn’t like the primness of it. And the expectations for the women. She was ahead of her time apparently.
The movie wasn’t a 100% success – but I found the ideas of the film intriguing, if a little outdated. I thought the twins teaming up a clever switch, and thought the ending a bit obvious, once we all knew where the film was going. But I thought the costume designs, the sets, and the ideas all a fascinating twist. And enjoyed it enough to keep with it. What did you think of it, was it worth your time?
Edited by: CY