The Little-Known Dystopian Sci-Fi Thriller On Netflix You Need To See

By Sean Thiessen | Updated


It can feel overwhelming sifting through the mountain of titles on Netflix in search of a diamond in the rough. The German sci-fi film Paradise is one of those Netflix original gems, and while it may not be perfect, it glimmers brighter than most.

Paradise is an overlooked Netflix sci-fi film about a future in which youth can be taken and given to others.

Paradise is set in a dystopian future where a genetics research company is cracking the code on eternal youth. Unfortunately, in order to conduct their research, they must take the youth of others. People donate years of their life, aging their bodies forward while their youth is essentially transplanted into another person.

It sounds like a way to make some quick cash, like donating plasma. Not great, but it won’t kill you immediately. Of course, where there is power, there is corruption.

The procedures in Paradise are used to keep the rich young, but youth becomes a currency and, in the case of the film’s main characters, a debt to be paid. This Netflix original follows Max and Elena, a married couple who must fight for Elena’s life after a financial disaster leads to a bank taking 40 years of her life.

What follows is a thriller packed with twists and turns. Max and Elena discover the procedure that took her youth can be reversed. They set out to reclaim the life that was stolen by any means necessary.

The movie unravels its bizarre sci-fi concept in fascinating ways, all while keeping its characters up against the clock. Paradise hit Netflix on July 27, 2023, to middling reviews; it carries a 56 percent Tomatometer score on Rotten Tomatoes, and a 55 percent Audience score.

Audience reviews for Paradise praise it for being original, and embracing its bonkers premise, two qualities that domestic films are widely accused of lacking.

Despite low averages, many reviews praise Paradise for its inventive story, exciting visual effects, and powerful cast. Netflix audiences have embraced the film for its originality, a quality that seems to be cherished more and more in a market saturated with franchises and reboots. Paradise is also a rather scathing critique of the rich, commenting on class struggle and wealth disparity in a creative and pointed way.


Paradise is not a film built on stars but rather on a cast of solid actors, most of whom found prior success in the German film and television landscape. The film was directed by the trio of Boris Kunz, Tomas Jonsgarden, and Indre Juskute. It was written by Simon Amberger, Peter Kocyla, and Boris Kunz.

Paradise is far from the first Netflix original to break out from Germany. Last year, the streamer released All Quiet on the Western Front, which was also Germany’s submission for the Academy Awards. It won four Oscars out of the nine it was nominated for.

More closely related to Paradise is the popular Netflix original series Dark. This German science fiction show is a complete and total mind-bender that meddles with time. Many have come to call the series a darker and more complex version of Stranger Things.

Netflix has created a path for several films and shows from other countries to break out in the United States. Paradise and Dark are some, but programs like Squid Game, Okja, and Roma are all popular award-winners from around the globe that have found a much wider audience thanks to Netflix.


But there is trouble in paradise for Netflix and the rest of Hollywood’s studios. As the Writers Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild continue to strike against the AMPTP, of which Netflix is a member, production of American films is at a halt. 

As the stockpile of movies and shows depletes, it is possible that studios like Netflix will seek an increased reliance on projects from other countries. The intrigue around movies like Paradise indicates that such a strategy may be viable. 

Paradise is a fresh and fun sci-fi thriller that, if you can manage subtitles, is worth the ride. The film is streaming now on Netflix, so why wait? After all, no one is getting any younger.