Undemanding fans of derivative by-the-numbers thrillers are likely to be the prime audience for this shlocky little tale that merrily marries all the clichés of films like Fatal Attraction and Basic Instinct with the more recent trend for ‘home invasion’ stories, albeit with the invader here taking residence underneath the house rather than aggressively violating it. Todd Grinnell (the Poundland Paul Rudd) and Mena Suvari (wearing the slightly haunted look of an actor wondering whatever happened to her once-promising career) are Knox and Tracey Bannett, a young couple trying for a baby (a tediously recurring plot point) who move to Malibu to ‘flip’ Knox’s mother’s beach house following her death. Unfortunately, there’s a wild-eyed, dishevelled mad woman living under the house; she bears a bitter grudge against Knox’s Mom and she’s not keen to move on from her cosy little nook overlooking the sea. She ignores Knox’s polite offer of help and his suggestion that she might want to move on and she eventually begins to wage a one-sided psychological war of attrition on the young couple in her attempts to claim what she sees as rightfully hers.
We’ve been here before, of course, in umpteen straight-to DVD/streaming movies and even though we can predict the story beats long before they actually arrive, Paradise Cove still manages to be mundanely engaging, thanks particularly to a standout performance by True Blood’s Kristin Bauer van Straten as the borderline bonkers Bree, squatting underneath the beach-house entertaining her druggie friends, reading cheap paperbacks and – eek – lighting the odd barbecue. Bree presents as actually quite a sympathetic character once we learn of her tragic past – a former model married to a film producer whose life fell apart when her husband and young son were killed in a car crash. But things, as ever, aren’t quite what they seem and as Bree ramps up her campaign against Knox and Tracey, it’s clear that she’s a deeply troubled and downright dangerous woman.
Paradise Cove is highly watchable trash often undermined by the implausibility of its script and the narrative gymnastics it takes to manoeuvre its characters to where they need to be. Plot holes and odd inconsistencies abound. At one point, Bree is arrested for wilfully demolishing the new bay window the pair instal in the beach house. She’s released on bail but the Police later dismiss Knox’s concerns about her, telling him he has no evidence and making it quite clear that they’re not interested… so why did they arrest her and lock her up in the first place? But to overthink Paradise Cove is to entirely miss the point. You’ll be here for the odd jump, the nice scenery, and the inevitable final confrontation between Bree and her unfortunate victims, which hurtles as deeply into over-the-top territory as you might expect. Paradise Cove is neither big nor clever but it’s harmless, dumb fun, and if nothing else it might just make you check out what’s going on in the bowels of your own home. Hang on… what’s that noise coming from the cellar..?
Release Date: Out Now (US/Canada)