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Toronto After Dark Review: ‘Paradise Hills’

October 16, 2019Britany Murphy

The term "paradise" is used throughout the world often, and it usually describes the perfect place. However, the word takes on an entirely different meaning in Alice Waddington's debut feature, Paradise Hills.

When Uma (Emma Roberts) wakes in a strange place called Paradise, the young woman has no idea where she is, or just how she came to be there. Surrounded by other young women — Yu (Awkwafina), Chloe (Danielle Macdonald) and Amarna (Eiza González) — Uma is asked to keep an "open mind" by the Duchess (Milla Jovovich), who runs the place. After being told she was sent here by her mother, Uma must do her best to integrate into the society of Paradise where all is prim and proper, and the women are meant to learn how to conduct themselves in a perfect manner — which makes Paradise what it is. However, something sinister lurks just beyond the surface and things aren't all what they seem.

An ambitious and visually pleasing piece of genre filmmaking, Paradise Hills' aesthetic is somewhat reminiscent of the Capitol in The Hunger Games trilogy, where perfection is seen through the eyes of others, and despite how perfect and cookie-cutter Paradise strives to make them, each woman represents something different. Ultimately, it's these themes that Paradise Hills brings to the forefront that makes it worth watching.

Paradise Hills makes its Toronto premiere at the 2019 Toronto After Dark Film Festival. Its runtime is 1 hr. 35 min.

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