Finishing School Is a Twee Cult Horror Show in Paradise Hills

Paradise Hills (2019)
Screenshot: Samuel Goldwyn Films

Finishing school—reforming young rich kids into adopting the behaviors of their rich parents—has always struck me as an extension of unnecessary, vintage misogyny and, obviously, classism. If placing greasy elbows on the table is how you sit most comfortably, go for it! Paradise Hills, the directorial debut of Alice Waddington, takes the Darwinian, Stepford Wives-adjacent conceit and shoves it straight into the horror context it deserves. Judging by the trailer, it’s one wild ride. A young woman named Uma (played by Emma Roberts) is sent to Paradise Hills, a twee, Taylor Swift’s music video for “Blank Space”-esque remote charm school on an island with a dark story. In the nearly two-minute visual, Uma is shipped off to this place with no recollection but quickly learns that: a) It’s creepy, and the residents are drugged to sleep, and 2) The school is built with the promise of turning its students into “the perfect version” of their parents.

The film stars Awkwafina, Danielle McDonald, and Eiza Gonzalez alongside Roberts, and Milla Jovovich as the school’s head master.


I assume there is some cult-like starvation dieting, too, judging by this sinister shot alone:

Paradise Hills (2019)
Screenshot: Samuel Goldwyn Films

Paradise Hills hits theaters November 1, just in case Halloween isn’t spooky enough. If you, like me, aren’t wild about thrillers—you can at least appreciate the pastel blood bath of it all.

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Maria Sherman

this is my day job: senior writer at jezebel