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Fantasy Island Movie Review: To call it Lousy would be an Understatement- Cinema express

Fantasy Island Movie Review: To call it Lousy would be an Understatement

Badly written, terribly acted and predictable and stupid in equal measure, Fantasy Island deserves a pass at all costs

Published: 15th February 2020

In the footsteps of increasingly mediocre horror fare from Blumhouse Productions over the years comes Fantasy Island, an adaptation of 1977’s television show bearing the same title. While the film pitches itself as supernatural horror, we’re not quite sure if it is so. Is it a thriller with tinges of the supernatural thrown in or a scary film utterly confused about its origins? Very hard to tell, really. The only box the film ticks is the one with horrifically bad written in bold letters. Unduly long, contrived, woefully acted, and predictable, the list of demerits for this one seemingly knows no bounds. What tops the laundry list of criticism is Fantasy Island’s substandard writing. At any point in the almost-two-hour story, one in never quite sure what the plot is attempting to convey. How did the island get its evil powers? How do people get selected, in the first place? Is there a special award given for the naïveté of its average guest? No answers are forthcoming, and thankfully so. Because, if it did have an explanation, that’s an additional set of minutes keeping you from being put out of your misery. 

Director – Jeff Wadlow

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

The first half is all fantasy-this and fantasy-that (the word gets thrown around in just about every sentence). The mysterious Mr Roarke (more daft than mysterious thanks to a shabby job courtesy Michael Peña) reiterates that once your fantasy has begun it must be seen to its logical conclusion. Funny that the film should talk about logic when there is precious little to go around, for starters. The island offers select clientele a chance to live out their fantasies for a price. The fantasies are far-ranging and the cost/consequence is unbeknownst to the person when they begin living it. The film opens with a group of five touching down on a beautiful island (the locale is perhaps the only aspect worth mentioning). Half brothers Brax and JD don not relent on the frat-boy behaviour for a minute and are there to have a good time (their fantasy is the good time); Melanie fantasises about taking revenge against a former high school bully; Patrick wishes to live the life of a US Army soldier; and Ms Olsen is in search of a strong connection (impressing good old Mr Roarke in the bargain).  

In the midst of all the euphoria and the oohs and aaahs uttered by the esteemed guests (the abundance of incisive dialogues like, “When you said fantasy, I wasn’t quite expecting this,” being thrown around for good measure), a presence keeps making itself felt. There’s also the big moment of revelation which can be seen from a mile away. Whatever the film attempts to convey is either highly predictable or incredibly daft; sometimes these two entities overlap and make things worse. Give it more consideration than required, and you do it at your own peril. Supernatural stories need the audience to take certain things for granted for them to work. But without believable actors and a half-decent script, it all goes down the drain. The more Fantasy Island plays out, the more laughable it becomes. Neither does it scare the pants off you like a good horror film nor does it intrigue you like an effective thriller. It gets muddled in some mumbo jumbo about an island with powers that holds your soul accountable for the fantasy you choose to live out. No one really knows what the poor island gets out of this elaborate scheming. Give it twenty minutes, and no one will really care. If you must watch it at all costs, go for the unintended laughs…there are many. My fantasy would be to go back in time and un-watch this forgettable film. 


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