Alice Waddington is making her feature debut with the Nacho Vigalondo-scripted thriller.
Filming in the suburbs of Spain, production on the sci-fi thriller Paradise Hills has been underway for quite some time. But that doesn’t prevent filmmakers from revealing a whole new slew of actors just joining the cast. Deadline reports that the Emma Roberts vehicle has been boarded by Milla Jovovich (Resident Evil), Alfie Allen (Game of Thrones), Jeremy Irvine (War Horse), and Awkwafina (Ocean’s Eight). They will be bumping shoulders with the previously announced Eiza González (Baby Driver) and Danielle Macdonald (Patti Cakes). This impressive ensemble is scrambling to join the feature debut of Alice Waddington.
Having caught the attention of genre fanatics at Fantastic Fest and Sitges with her short Disco Inferno, Waddington is looking to bring her gothic kink to a wider audience. Paradise Hills is based on an original idea from the first-time director, but the grunt work of the screenplay is being handled by Nacho Vigalondo (Timecrimes) and Brian DeLeeuw (Some Kind of Hate).
Film Twitter is always ready to sink their teeth into whatever Vigalondo dares to dish up. While Colossal, his twist on the kaiju spectacle, did not devastate the box office, the film did dominate online conversation. We here at FSR spent several late nights and early mornings delving into Vigalondo’s mad world, and his contribution to Godzilla’s lineage made our own list of the 37 Best Big Monster Movies. What can we say? We’re suckers for his special brand of genre crazy.
Vigalondo is name enough to gain our confidence in Paradise Hills. The fact that such a wonderfully odd blend of performers are clamoring to work with him and Waddington is simply a big bonus. Whatever the outcome of quality, the film should certainly scar some kind of impression on its audience.
Waddington, meanwhile, got her start directing fashion films for the Spanish editions of Harper’s Bazaar and Neo2. She specialized as a photo realistic storyboard artist, and carried her skills into the realm of the narrative short film. In 2015, she made Disco Inferno. The 11-minute short toured the globe, landing at various prestigious film festivals, but especially struck a chord with the genre focused audiences at Fantasia , Sitges, and Fantastic Fest. At the last of those events, she took home the Best Director prize, and she has been clamoring to get her first feature film off the ground ever since.
From these early forays into filmmaking, fans are already comparing her to Stanley Kubrick and Mario Bava. Such hyperbole can be a daunting and a constricting marker. At 28 years old, she ties with Isabel Coixet (The Secret Life of Words) as the youngest Spanish woman to ever direct a film. From Disco Inferno to Paradise Hills, Waddington has told interviewers that she is hoping to continue her focus on socially relevant horror films. That is some potentially perfect timing. In the wake of It Follows and Get Out, we’re aching for more horror with something to say.
Taking place sometime in our dangerous not-too-distant future, Paradise Hills will see Roberts’ character awakening one morning inside the Paradise Hills treatment facility. Trapped on an isolated island where the rich dump their wayward daughters to be reformed and reintegrated into society. The mind immediately races to crazy house pictures like Shutter Island and Session 9. Add a little science fiction dash of 12 Monkeys or The Jacket, and Paradise Hills could join the ranks of cinema’s scariest locations.
What is it about hospitals that is just so damn upsetting? Well, frankly, they are where we go to die. Or to watch loved ones die. A trip to the ER is never a pleasant experience, and most of us preoccupy our brains with ridiculous self-diagnosis to keep our butts out of there. I don’t know about you, but I’ll loose myself in WebMD before I ever contemplate a trip to the clinic. I’ve seen Dr. Giggles, ok?
Vigalondo has shown in his films that he knows just where to root around in our psyche. He’s exposed our secret online shames with Open Windows, catered to our doomsday scenarios in Extraterrestrial, and pandered to the endless loops we all trap ourselves in with Timecrimes. He’s a high concept tactician and a filmmaker eager to celebrate the craft of others. I could not possibly imagine a better storyteller mentor for Alice Waddington to have on her side.