The American Satan Returns: Paradise City - S01 - (2021) - Reviewed

images courtesy Sumerian Records

The story of the fictional rock band The Relentless continues on with Sumerian Records release of Paradise City on Amazon Prime this weekend. 

The make believe band made their premiere in the 2017 horror film American Satan which saw the lead singer make a deal with a devilish Malcolm McDowell to gain worldwide stardom. 

This week saw the premiere of a new short run season of eight episodes that brings back most of the cast as their pact still dangles in the background of a cheese riddled plot about stardom, battles with the paparazzi, sexual deviancy, chemical dependency and unwanted pregnancy. The resulting product is a rather lackluster affair that features some excellent scenery but hole filled writing and terrible performances from everyone involved. 

Lack of any budget is quite apparent as the jump from film to the television format is apparent in the poor lighting choices, horrible editing, and subplots that should have been left on the cutting room floor. Sadly enough, the role that Cameron Boyce plays carries a lot of weight in the background, but due to his untimely death, it will never be finished. A record label taking up a dramatic series doesn't quite work as it really becomes a constant presentation of their signed artists. Meg Myers and Smashing Pumpkins are both featured throughout the run time of the eight episodes. While I have much love for both, the consistent pushing of their music ends up taking away from the show especially because their music doesn't fit the dynamic of the series as a whole. 

2017's American Satan saw The Relentless become worldwide megastars with their mixed band, half from the U.S. and the other portion from England. After their deal with the devil is forged, they quickly rise to the top of pop metal music outfits. The movie succeeded in creating a dark chapter rooted in gothic costuming, some realistic live performance footage, and a creepy performance from McDowell. However, the show is a total departure from the film. The plotting is amateurish at best. And some of these people really can't act to save their lives. The missing component of McDowell also weighs heavily on the overall tone of these first eight episodes. 

Comparatively speaking, Paradise City fails to create the same type of hype as American Satan. The live performances are lacking any grounding, the studio scenes are just eye candy for real life musicians, and the lip syncing is brutally unwatchable and uncomfortable. Andy Biersack (lead singer of Black Veil Brides) once again attempts to expand his range as an actor but falls flat on his face. It just doesn't work. The magic isn't there this time around. 

Some fans might rally around some of the stars of the series. It's a virtual Sons of Anarchy reunion with both Mark Boone Junior and Ryan Hurst carrying support roles. Yet, there's just not enough fat to chew on here. Even Bella Thorne's performance can't save a sinking ship. It's not clear whether or not this will get a second season yet as the first was delayed for over twelve months. There will need to be some heavy adapting done to replace Boyce or write out his subplot. And the people producing the series need to do a serious inward look at how bad they're creating live live music scenarios. 

You would really think that an up and coming label with major acts would know how to get behind a project like this to make sure that the presentation was right. It's not. In fact, it's pretty damn terrible. Director Ash Avildsen has taken a fairly cool idea and in fact ruined it.