Four years ago today, the sci-fi, feminist thriller Paradise Hills opened in the United States. Today, FF2 celebrates its director, the inimitable Alice Waddington.
Alice was born on July 31, 1990 in Bilbao, Spain. While still a teenager, Alice developed a keen fascination with photography. Interested in pursuing that passion further, Alice obtained a degree in advertising at the University of the Basque, where she began to work with promotional photography and film. While still in school, Alice even landed the prestigious job as photographer for Harper’s Bazaar Spain. During this time, she honed her already-flourishing photography skills while starting the foray into directing.
For a few years, Alice continued to work in the advertising business. Though infusing the promotional work with her own creativity, Alice’s ideas warranted their own outlet. In 2014, she took a break from her career to both write and direct her own short film. The originality and striking execution of the film, called Disco Inferno, caught the attention of critics across the world. Disco Inferno’s plot sees the intersection of hellfire and fire on the dance floor. The Devil, a lesser demon, and wealthy partygoers face off in a film whose tempting mystery combines with its black-and-white gradient to create an eleven-minute dive into lavish horror.
The Devil, a lesser demon, and wealthy partygoers face off in a film whose tempting mystery combines with its black-and-white gradient to create an eleven-minute dive into lavish horror.
Disco Inferno was nominated for awards at a whopping 63 international film festivals. The instant and staggering success of the short immediately drew the attention of the film world. In 2017, Alice received funding from Nostromo Pictures to make her first feature length film, Paradise Hills.
Paradise Hills premiered at Sundance in 2019. The film finds stars such as Emma Roberts, Awkwafina, Milla Jovovich, and Danielle Macdonald isolated in a strange, fairytale world. The island the women inhabit is both beautiful and menacing, with plenty of secrets hiding around each corner. The girls live in a gilded cage; as the bars become tighter and tighter, they must fight against this patriarchal, capitalist hellscape to ensure their own survival. In her review of the film, FF2 collaborator Carlotta Plys-Garzotto highlighted Alice’s knack for visuals. She writes, “The breathtaking sets and special effects are a great accompaniment to the twists and turns of the story.” Alice’s start in photography may still be clearly seen in her films today. The visual beauty of her stories juxtapose their dark subject matter, and bring each gruesome horror to life.
The visual beauty of her stories juxtapose their dark subject matter, and bring each gruesome horror to life.
Also in 2019, Alice announced that she was currently working on her next film. Scarlet, which will be a Netflix original, will be both directed and co-written by her.
In 2021, Netflix announced Alice would also direct the film adaption of Dept H., a dark, investigatory comic book series. Alice’s distinct, pictorial style will no doubt maintain the integrity of the comic’s visual storytelling even on the big screen.
In addition to drawing on her background in photography, Alice’s work is infused with her unwavering passion for women’s liberation. She centers women’s stories in a bold new way. Though her films highlight the strength of women and girls, she does not compromise femininity in her visuals and costuming. Horror and fantasy, both genres known for misogyny and sexploitation, are expanded upon and repurposed to serve a bold, feminine perspective. It is the perspective of Alice Waddington, genre filmmaker of the future. Thank you, Alice!
© Reese Alexander (10/25/2023) FF2 Media
LEARN MORE/DO MORE
Watch Disco Inferno here.
Watch Paradise Hills here.
CREDITS & PERMISSIONS
Featured photo: Awkwafina as Yu in PARADISE HILL (2019). Photo Courtesy of Samuel Goldwyn Films.
Bottom photo: Alice Waddington at arrivals for The Hollywood Reporter and SAG-AFTRA Emmy Nomination Celebration, Avra, Beverly Hills, CA September 20, 2019. Photo Credit: Priscilla Grant/Everett Collection/Alamy Stock Photo. Image ID: 2A0WB85