2019 TIFF Film Review: MARIA’S PARADISE (Marian paratiisi)(Finland/Estonia 2019) ****

Maria's Paradise Poster
The orphan Salome is the servant and devout follower of Maria Åkerblom, a charismatic sect leader. But as Salome befriends a rebellious outsider and starts to have doubts, Maria turns dangerous.


Zaida Bergroth

Forget Avi Aster’s Scandinavian religious sect horror MIDSOMMAR.  MARIA’S PARADISE is the real thing – based on the real events that took place with a religious sect in Finland in the 1920’s.  Where Aster has instilled his odd humour and imprint on MIDSOMMAR making it more terrifying but less believable, director Bergroth lets the real horror as seen by one of the sect members reflect the terror without resorting to any theatrics.  

Salome, a teenage follower begins to question the teachings (and actions) of the fringe religious sect in which she has been raised.  Salome eventually discovers that her mother was murdered by the sect and that she is being led into the same dilemma by the cult’s leader, Maria.  When Salome leans that her best friend is also murdered, she decides to take matters in her own hands with an escape plan.  Director Bergroth has her own style and it is one that underscores the credibility of the events. 

 The film is slow moving but the horror unfolding is even more lasting.  Chilling and captivating!  Shot in Finnish.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=smFtoYp5QUo

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