Plot: Tamara (Boti Bliss) has just learned her estranged father has passed on, leaving her an inheritance of over eight million dollars. While the two were never close and she often felt abandoned thanks to his life choices, she accepts the cash as a kind of postmortem apology for his actions. As soon as her account is flush, she buys a new house and arranges a lavish tropical vacation, but she isn’t going alone, as she treats her two best friends to the excursion as well. In addition to the sun, drinks, and gossip, Tamara finds her enjoying another of the island’s attractions, an Italian sea captain named Dario (Antonio Sabato, Jr.). The two begin a passionate love affair and while she has to return home at some point, Tamara ponders the idea of staying to build a new life with this mysterious lover. But when she wakes up to discover Dario is gone and her bank accounts have been cleaned out, she realizes this tropical romance was just a mirage to get her cash. Does she just have to chalk this up as a learning experience or can Tamara somehow settle the score with Dario?
Entertainment Value: Although Lifetime is best known for melodramatic, often obsession driven thrillers, some of their pictures have a more traditional, straight forward mystery formula involved. Such is the case with Remote Paradise, which has minimal melodrama and never goes manic with the material, opting for a more grounded, restrained approach instead. I found this to be like the movie version of a book you’d reach at the beach, a brisk, passable mystery that fills some time, but doesn’t leave much of an impression. Some logic gaps are present of course, to set up the core mystery, but there aren’t many wild twists or turns, so those who prefer a less over the top thriller should be pleased with that. I wouldn’t have minded some dialed up moments, as the pace can be slow and again while passable, Remote Paradise struggles to rise above that level. Perhaps a more colorful villain or some unexpected twists might have raised the stakes a little, whereas the movie seems to lean on the revenge fantasy instead. I found this to be watchable and I liked the cast for the most part, but that’s about all I can praise about Remote Paradise.
I often praise the work of villains in these Lifetime thrillers, as I think a capable antagonist is what usually drives films of this kind. After all, a wild, over the top, or otherwise memorable villain can elevate the entire picture, especially since Lifetime sometimes neglects development on the protagonists. In this case, Antonio Sabato, Jr. turns in a decent performance, but he seems disinterested and doesn’t bring much menace to the role. I think if his character would have had that “snap” moment where he shifts from dream guy to psycho, perhaps the tension would have risen in the final act, but that doesn’t happen. So we have a basic, generic bad guy and Remote Paradise suffers as a result. I like Boti Bliss and she is fine in this one, but the script just doesn’t do much with her. The development is inconsistent and while Bliss is likable, the material doesn’t help us rally behind her. By the time she takes the law into her own hands, we should have been invested and had her facing off with a genuine threat, but the movie settles for a limp finale. The cast also includes Ion Overman, Jacqueline Lord, and Madison Spielvogel.