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Paradise Cove Movie Review

Written by Joel Harley

Released by Sunset Pictures


Directed by Martin Guigui
Written by Sherry Klein
2021, 103 minutes, Not Yet Rated
Grimmfest European Premiere on 5th April 2021

Todd Grinnell as Knox Bannett
Mena Suvari as Tracey
Kristen Bauer van Straten as Bree
Eddie Goines as Griff


Ageing yuppie couple Knox and Tracey think they can make a tasty profit when they inherit a fire-damaged Malibu beach house. Professional renovator man Knox (Todd Grinnell) is confident that the place is worth millions, in spite of its problems. It would also appear to be the ideal place for the pair to conceive their first child. If you don’t mind the smell of char, that is. Altogether more difficult to ignore – the homeless lady living under the house.

True Blood’s Kristen Bauer van Straten is washed-up actress and/or model Bree; living under the house, with what she thinks is a legitimate claim on the property. Feeling guilty, Knox is reluctant to boot her from his land outright, giving Bree the wriggle room (plus enough money for some nice steaks) she needs to make his and Tracey’s life hell. The pair’s poor pooch is doomed from the start.

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Director Martin Guigui resurrects the 80s/90s psycho-thriller for this low-rent, even-lower-effort battle of wits between hobo and himbo. The cards are stacked against Knox and Tracey from the start – boy, is this the wrong day and age to ask us to care about a pair of overprivileged whites and their stupid million-dollar beach house problems. Knox is a dullard, Tracey (Mena Suvari) a shrill cliché. In what world do we not root for Bree and her army of homeless veterans? Certainly not the real world most of us live in.

Straten isn’t as creepy as Pacific Heights’ Michael Keaton, or as manic as Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, but she’s consistently the only thing that the film gets right. There are no scares, no surprises and no tension; it’s certainly not erotic, in spite of the whole thing building up to a sex sequence between Knox and Bree. The thing is over-lit and ugly, lacking in atmosphere and with a preponderance of bad CGI. To call it a glorified TV movie would be doing a disservice to TV movies; Paradise Cove is bad by any standard.

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Fans of B-movie schlock may get something out of the ludicrous final act, even if it’s just an underwater fistfight and a spot of waterboarding. Guigui and writer Sherry Klein go slightly further than you might expect them to, but it’s essentially quite tame.

Straten and Suvari do their best, but they’re let down by the predictable story and sexist depiction of their characters. Its flaws are on the structural level, rooted deep in the foundations. No mere fixer-upper, Paradise Cove is a write-off.


Movie: 2 Star Rating Cover
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About The Author
Joel Harley
Staff Reviewer - UK
Haribo fiend, Nicolas Cage scholar and frequently functioning alcoholic. These are just some of the words which can be used to describe Joel Harley. The rest, he uses to write film criticism for Horror DNA and a variety of websites and magazines. Sometimes he manages to do so without swearing.
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