Fantasy Island

SONY PICTURES RELEASING (2020)

 

Director: Jeff Wadlow

 

Starring: Michael Peña, Maggie Q, Lucy Hale, Austin Stowell, Jimmy O. Yang, Portia Doubleday, Ryan Hansen, Michael Rooker

Not the new rival to ITV’s Love Island...

 

Back in the seventies, Fantasy Island was a fun, oddball mystery TV show starring Ricardo Montalban that went on for a few years and was left in the eighties. It was probably left there for a reason too. However, now, the man who tortured us with Truth or Dare, Jeff Wadlow, is back in the director’s chair with a horror-tinged reimagining that aims to have you on the edge of your seats, gripped by the fantasies and fates of five guests to the idyllic island.

If you have seen Truth or Dare (or Cry Wolf...or True Memoirs of an International Assassin) you’ll understand the silliness behind that last statement. Truth or Dare was Nickelodeon Horror and Fantasy Island is no different, in fact, this is more Disney+ Horror. Five guests are whisked to a paradise island where they are promised by Michael Peña’s Mr. Roarke that whatever their fantasies are, the island will give it to them. The island, however, is deceitful and soon those fantasies begin to turn sour. Straight up, the idea of turning the premise of Fantasy Island into a horror effort, to me, is a great idea. The possibilities available are tantalising and Blumhouse seemed to be a good fit – when they deliver, they really deliver, though their off days are painful. Unfortunately, the idea of producing a good movie was really just a fantasy too – Fantasy Island is really not good. For a movie that required multiple story threads to work, it still manages to feel cumbersome, messy and convoluted. The main issue is the characters, nothing about them is relatable or affable, they’re just well-dressed fodder (including the usually charming Maggie Q) and without anyone to care about, the stakes are pretty much non-existent.

 

Also, labelling this as ‘horror’ is misleading. Yes, the movie itself is horrifying but there really is no horror on show – no suspense, atmosphere, tension, it’s just lacking in nearly every department. The dialogue? Shudder. The island itself looks great, it’s supposed to and the huge party Mr. Roarke puts on for some of the guests looks like my idea of fun but, those aside, there really aren’t many redeeming factors to save Fantasy Island.

 

Despite it’s interesting premise, Fantasy Island is just a throwaway movie that thankfully only stays around for one-hundred-minutes and that’s more than enough. My fantasy would be to live in a world where I hadn’t seen this movie.  

February 15th 2020

© 2016 Matt Hudson / What I Watched Tonight / Essex

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