Written by: Joe Lollo
What cursed fantasy did Blumhouse Productions wish for so that Fantasy Island could be made? I don’t want to know because this film is terrible, and does not work in any aspect.
It’s not scary enough to be a horror film. The story isn’t good enough to be a fantasy film. It’s not funny enough to be a comedy film. So what is it? It’s just bad.
The film is adapted from a beloved comedy show from the 1970s, one in which people would arrive at an island to have their deepest dreams come true. However, every week, viewers would learn that dreams sometimes don’t play out the way they want and turn into nightmares.
It seems to be an interesting premise. Given Blumhouse’s previous production record with movies like Get Out and Whiplash, there seemed to be a hint of hope that Fantasy Island would be good in at least one sense of the word. This is not the case.
Every choice that the filmmakers made completely ruined this potential. For instance, towards the end, the characters are forced to explain every aspect of the plot in a Q&A format that feels so artificial that it prevents the audience from making any connection with them. Part of the reason that the writing team made this decision was the vast amount of background information each character had, and how said information contributes to the plot.
The complexity of this does not do the narrative any justice; and, indeed, there are a number of plot twists that are unintentionally hilarious. The humor does not last long though as the film takes itself way too seriously.
It was marketed as a horror-comedy, but unfortunately, it failed both these respects too. It relies too heavily on common horror tactics used to scare audiences, such as jump scares, changes in sound dynamics, and excessive gore, and the “comedy” is either borrowed from the original TV show or a failed attempt at being “trendy”.
I believe it does work as a comedy, but in a slightly different sense – it’s one of those “fun” kinds of bad movies, where all the failures the filmmakers make are turned into something laughable and enjoyable. In that sense, it works extremely well. Even the performances were subpar compared to the talent on screen. The three main actors, Lucy Hale, Michael Rooker, and Michael Peña, are all fantastic actors and have had great performances in different movies. This is not one of them.
Overall, this is another attempt by the Hollywood studios to reboot past intellectual property for a new generation. This is the complaint many cinephiles and critics have alike; Hollywood needs to do a better job of identifying original voices who have original stories to tell. Without that, we will continue to see failures like Fantasy Island.