Sunday, August 23, 2020

Take Me to Paradise City - A Look at the Upcoming Series

(by Cat)

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Back in May, I learned some really exciting news. Fans of the movie American Satan (2017) will be happy to hear (if you haven’t already) that the film is getting a sequel – by way of a series. That’s right, instead of a couple hours to whet your thirst for details and more of The Relentless, we’re going to get roughly 8 hours.

Before I get too far into what we know about this story continuation, let me touch on the movie for a moment. For some reason, I had thought we had reviewed American Satan already when, in fact, we hadn’t. For that reason, I will attempt to give as few spoilers as possible and go over the film with you briefly so there’s a little background behind why I’m doing my geeky squee-clap-of-joy at this sequel news.

American Satan was my #20 pick on my Top 20 list for movies releasing in October 2017. The placement wasn’t a reflection of my opinion of the film, but rather the controversy that titles along these lines generate. It was getting a limited release for only a handful of screens outside the film festival circuit. I think I wrote one of my longest blurbs ever, in hopes that this movie would get a fair shake. (If you’re interested, you can read the article here.)

For those who want a TL;DR version, let me sum it up. The movie is a modern-day retelling of the centuries-old folk tale of Faust put in a setting of sex, drugs, and rock & roll. It’s a story of a young band, The Relentless, trying to make it big in L.A., and the price of cutting corners and taking too-good-to-be-true shortcuts. The film explores what selling your soul to get ahead becomes, and how important it is to value self-integrity, friends, and family. All of this is carried out by a phenomenal cast and also put to an epic soundtrack.

Among the cast are members of actual bands. Johnny Faust is played by Andy Biersack (Legion of the Black, Average Joe, American Satan) of Black Veil Brides and Leo Donovan is played by Ben Bruce (Asking Alexandria: Live from Brixton and Beyond, American Satan, What Now) of Asking Alexandria.

Although Biersack and Bruce are both musicians in their own right, and the other cast members equally talented, the movie was unable to use Biersack’s voice due to contract stipulations with his record label at that time. The vocals for The Relentless are provided by the front-man of Palaye Royale, Remington Leith (American Satan, Palaye Royale: Mr. Doctor Man). 

Image courtesy Paradise City Facebook
Part of the good news to be shared about the series is that this dynamic will continue. Although Biersack is now under the Sumerian Records label, run by writer/director Ash Avildsen (The Warrior Show, What Now, Palaye Royale: Mr. Doctor Man), everyone is on the same page that Johnny Faust’s singing voice is already well established and there’s no reason to change it.

There have been some re-casts among the existing American Satan characters. Three are particularly of note. Band member Dylan James, formerly played by Sebastian Gregory (Accidents Happen, A Heartbeat Away, Shooting in Vain), will now be represented by Bruce’s real-world band-mate James Cassells (Asking Alexandria: Through Sin and Self-Destruction, At Hell's Door: Behind the Scenes at Hellfest, Asking Alexandria: Live from Brixton and Beyond).

Interestingly, the role of ‘Capricorn’ within the series will give us a bit of a twist with Brooke Lyons (The Inner Circle, 2 Broke Girls, Lincoln Rhyme: Hunt for the Bone Collector) instead of the movie’s 'Mr. Capricorn' played by Malcolm McDowell (Death Race 2050, Walk of Fame, Abnormal Attraction). Of course, this shouldn’t be a terrible shock if you’ve seen the movie.

Image courtesy Paradise City Facebook
I think I’m the most excited about the new version of Lily Mayflower. I’m not sure if it’s known why Jesse Sullivan (Enigma of Being Awake, American Satan, Don't Stop Don't Speak) couldn’t carry forward her performance of the character to this series, but I’m really amped up to see the role in the hands of Bella Thorne (Ratchet & Clank, Amityville: The Awakening, Midnight Sun). I think she’s going to take the character to the next level. So far, the stills and what snippets are offered in the teaser are simply fire.

That’s not all of the casting news. This series really just keeps getting better, the more layers I’ve peeled back surrounding it. Fans of Sons of Anarchy (2008-2014) will be happy to hear that Mark Boone Junior (30 Days of Night, The Birth of a Nation, Ghost House) is returning to reprise his role from the film. He’ll be joined in the series by two of his former SoA castmates, Drea de Matteo (Desperate Housewives, Shades of Blue, A Million Little Things) and Ryan Hurst (Rango, CBGB, The Walking Dead).

Image courtesy Paradise City Facebook
The one sad note that makes this series a little bittersweet for me is that this production captured the final role of Cameron Boyce (Descendants, Mrs. Fletcher, Runt). The former Disney star is greatly missed and had an unquestionable talent for both acting and music. If you’re a fan, maybe keep some tissues handy while watching Paradise City. You may need them. Boyce plays a central character in this first season, and thankfully had completed all of his filming at the point of his untimely passing. Following the tragic news, the show’s Instagram shared that a portion of the show’s proceeds would be going to The Cameron Boyce Foundation to honor the late humanitarian actor.

I could keep going about this star-studded cast, but there’s even more to unpack about what’s known regarding the series so far.

It’s been said that you don’t have to watch American Satan first to understand this series, but fans of the film will certainly get a lot more out of the experience while they learn more about The Relentless band members on a more detailed level. The series looks to go into some of the characters’ backgrounds and give us a look at what makes them tick.

Image courtesy Paradise City Facebook
I know I’m excited to see the interplay between Biersack and Boyce’s characters as they take on the themes of seasoned pro mentor and idolizing rookie. Further, who knows what’s up Capricorn’s sleeve following the shocking events within the movie?! There’s bound to be some amazing new music underlying everything, as well.  

I have so many questions that I’m hoping the series answers – and I have faith that it will. The show’s Instagram gave us another tease in late June, promising that the release date and network home for the series would be released ‘soon.’ I know I can’t wait, and I’m on pins and needles in anticipation. In the meantime, if you haven’t seen the movie yet – there’s some time still before Paradise City drops. Give it a whirl! If you're not sure where to find the movie to stream, give JustWatch a click and you'll see all of the currently available options.

Without further ado, you can watch the Season One teaser for Paradise City below. 

P.S.  - For a little lagniappe, below you'll find the YouTube interview of Ash Avildsen, Andy Biersack, and Ben Bruce by hard-hitting rock journalist Matt Pinfield. (Runtime approx 30 min.) WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS

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