Most similar in tone to a Lifetime movie-of-the-week, Paradise Cove tries so hard to capture that erotic thriller 90s vibe from movies like Single White Female and Poison Ivy. Where it fails most is in a flimsy script that appears to reach for dangerous and silly social commentary. It’s disappointing and so misguided, but worst of all it lets down a talented ensemble. Kristin Baeuer van Straten camps it up as Bree the homeless vagrant, but even her highly entertaining performance can’t keep a film afloat that’s full of Swiss cheese plotholes.
Hard-working contractor Knox (Todd Grinnell) and his wife Tracey (Mena Suvari) move into his mother’s beach house in Malibu to flip it and make an easy profit. The unhinged homeless woman, Bree (Kristin Baeuer van Straten), living under the house has other plans for the property. Bree isn’t going to make it easy for the young couple to simply brush her away.
This is all so empty and hollow, though if you’re a fan of thrillers in general there are a couple sequences that could prove for some passing entertainment. I just wish the film wasn’t so generic; it barely tries to give Bree motivation or backstory. Straten’s Bree is the biggest thing to recommend here as she makes the most out of a flat character that could’ve been throwaway in any other hands. The story’s implications will no doubt rub many people the wrong way. Rich people’s lives demolished by a deranged vagrant? We have enough dissent towards the homeless population in this country without this unfair characterization. A homeless woman using your toothbrush? She must be so unhinged! Bree’s outrageous behavior extends into a shower scene so ridiculous it actually made me laugh out loud, but there isn’t enough of these crazy outbursts to keep things exciting. A certain death in the movie just comes across very mean-spirited and unnecessary. Every time the story shifts focus to Tracey, the movie grinds to a halt.
CGI in some scenes, especially glass from a window and what appears to be greenscreen backgrounds, is glaringly poor. The setting is frequently gorgeous and the beachy vibes are well established, but like other aspects of the movie it doesn’t go anywhere. When the only takeaway from your film is that homeless people are bad, I think you need a few more script rewrites. Paradise Cove is out now on all VOD platforms.