‘Fantasy Island’ // Film Review: My Fantasy Didn’t Come True

We are at a time where adapting old television shows from the ’70s and ’80s have been done to death, and there are a hand full that are downright bad and leaves a bad taste in the mouths of those who grew up watching the actual series. Blumhouse has recently turned the tables on Fantasy Island in trying to re-imagination this property as a horror movie to bring a new audience to this property. After it ended, my fantasy didn’t come true: This movie still exists.

What’s the Story: On a luxurious but remote island, Mr. Roarke (Michael Peña) has invited a group of people who’ve won a contest to visit the resort where they can make any possible fantasy of theirs come true. But not everything is what it seems, as the fantasies they request might be too real and above all dangerous to all of them.

Portia Doubleday, Maggie Q, Lucy Hale, Austin Stowell, and Jimmy O. Yang in Fantasy Island (2020)

With this being based on the television show, I’m a little familiar with the classic 1977 series with Ricardo Montalbán as Mr. Roarke and Hervé Villechaize as his assistant Tattoo. There was also a very short-lived remake of the show with Malcolm McDowell in 1998 that I forgot about. Hearing about taking this and turning a horror twist to the story kind of sounded interesting enough where it has been described as Westworld meets The Cabin in the Woods. Co-writer/director Jeff Wadlow previously directed the underwhelming Kick-Ass 2, but the last movie he did was 2018’s Truth or Dare, which was also a Blumhouse production that also starred Lucy Hale. That was a movie that got trashed by everybody, and I had the brains to stay away from it because it looked hilariously awful.

Watching the trailer for this, I couldn’t help but wonder why they decide to go with a horror movie approach to the source material and made it PG-13 since teenagers have no clue about the show. Blumhouse hasn’t produced a good movie in over a year, so there has to be some kind of hope of this being entertaining. Though, it wasn’t a surprise that Fantasy Island is the first true abysmal movie of 2020 and continuing on the tread of bad horror movies that have already come out at the beginning of the decade.

Where to begin? Well, this wasn’t scary all at. I can see horror as a subjective genre, like comedy, since its point is to make you scared. That was an aspect Wadlow and his co-writers Chris Roach and Jillian Jacobs had no idea about what was supposed to be scary and not be just cheap jump scares. His direction is also the dullest and uninspired filmmaking, as it never shows off anything spectacular. Worse of all, it wasn’t even fun. They gave us a horror movie where these four interconnecting stories are happening on the island, and there wasn’t a moment of honestly caring about the characters and their respective situations since a few came off as unlikeable.

Lucy Hale as Melanie has a fantasy of having exact revenge on her old high school bully Sloane (Portia Doubleday); Austin Stowell as Patrick wants to be in the war to connect with his father; Maggie Q as Gwen wants the fantasy of not having regretting saying no to her boyfriend after proposing, and Ryan Hansen and Jimmy O. Yang as stepbrothers JD and Brax just want the fantasy of partying like they’re on spring break. One is horror, war, comedy, and a romantic drama. Every time it cuts back to either of their stories, the tone loses itself and doesn’t even try to feel like we’re watching a horror movie.

Michael Peña, Lucy Hale, and Austin Stowell in Fantasy Island (2020)

How were the performances? Not great. Peña, who I’m a fan of, just felt miscast as Mr. Roarke since he doesn’t allow any personality to flow throughout this character. Ricardo Montalbán, he is not. Hale, Stowell, Doubleday, and even Michael Rooker as a machete-wielding dude in the jungle couldn’t even make this dialogue work. The only one that I thought was good was Maggie Q since her performance was probably the most believable out of everybody else. Still, she isn’t enough to make this passable.

Any attempts at humor were painful listening to, especially when the jokes came from Hansen Yang. They are the type of “bros” that nobody should hang out with. Their story was the least bit interesting throughout, and with characters like them, it was so predictable where it was going. One of them made a Panic Room reference, and the life got sucked out of me. Nothing was even unintentionally funny.

There was even a point in the movie where I thought it was almost over since it felt like it about to end. It kept going for another 20 or 30 minutes, which made for a very boring time after a while since it didn’t feel like 109 minutes. It was frustrating to know there was a lot more and just wanting to leave and move on with my life.

Parisa Fitz-Henley in Fantasy Island (2020)

Then, with the twists and surprises that occurred later on, that is where it turns into the worst kind of horror movie out there. Not only were they completely stupid, but it was also doesn’t make any lick of sense. It was almost like they tried to provide a message about the guest learning their lessons and being careful what you wish for, but the contrived script didn’t make that clear. The guy sitting next to me was reaction almost throughout the third act, and I was just annoyed that he thought it was surprising, just wanted to say, “Dude, calm down.” Plus, I immediately got out of my seat ten seconds before the credits rolled after a certain thing was revealed and just wanted to give the middle finger to the screen.

As I was thinking about this hours later, why wasn’t this made as a comedy? For a premise like this, it should’ve played out as a hilarious take on the show rather than a tame PG-13 movie with little blood that felt nothing like a horror movie in its two hours. I don’t know if they’ve shot themselves in the foot for not pushing the R-rating, but at least it could’ve tried to be competent.

Fantasy Island was a horrible remake of a classic television series. This failed at being scary, not having a consistent story or characters to remotely care about, and it piles on eye-rolling twists. Chalk this one up as one of the worst TV adaptations since it won’t please anyone. First Black Christmas, then this? Blumhouse, get your crap together. Believe it or not, Wadlow’s next project will be a horror movie revolving the Magic 8-Ball with the same. How stupid are we getting in Hollywood? If you’re one of those people who grew up watching the show, STAY AWAY!

All I’m asking for both The Invisible Man and A Quiet Place Part II, please be good so we don’t have to be in a bad time for the genre at the moment.

Grade: F


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