Fantasy Island Review

Fantasy Island
Competition winners Melanie (Lucy Hale), Gwen (Maggie Q), JD (Ryan Hansen) and more show up at Fantasy Island to live out what they think will be their wildest dreams. But as curated by Mr Roarke (Michael Peña), they soon learn it could all be a nightmare...

by James White |
Published on
Release Date:

14 Feb 2020

Original Title:

Fantasy Island (2020)

Given its relatively high hit rate, the Blumhouse company rarely sees an out-and-out flop. And even in the case of something like this soggy misfire, the tightly controlled budget means that there aren’t giant write-offs in its future. Still, when it is also putting out the likes of The Invisible Man, the quality level of a film such as Fantasy Island is all the more puzzling.

Dusting off the camp 1970s TV series – which often went to darker places itself, if not quite the levels that Wadlow and his cast are apt to explore – the film attempts to blend the tropical locale style of the original with the creeping sense of dread that the director brought to his last film for the company, Truth Or Dare. Unfortunately, none of it really gels.

The overriding mood here is cheap, telegraphed jump shocks.

In keeping with the show’s conceit, guests arrive and are promised that they can live out their fantasies – Hansen’s JD and stepbrother Brax (Crazy Rich Asians’ Jimmy O. Yang) predictably want to enjoy a hedonistic party world, Q’s Gwen is after love and Austin Stowell’s Patrick has military manoeuvres on his mind. Hale’s Melanie, meanwhile, just wants some light-hearted revenge on the mean girl who made her life hell back in high school. Initially convinced it’s all holograms, sets and actors, they soon realise that things are horribly real and that – yes! – they should have been careful what they wished for.

Despite one or two interesting character layers, the overriding mood here is cheap, telegraphed jump shocks, silly sideswipes and a ridiculous reason for Roarke and co’s work on the island that powers a distinctly unimaginative, dull final act. In the show, Ricardo Montalban’s Roarke was all about “smiles, everyone!” from his colleagues. The new Fantasy Island is more likely to make you feel miserable for watching it.

Unlikely to win over those who remember the lush vistas and Montalban-powered original, nor appeal much to teens looking for a horror-filled night at the movies, Fantasy Island is distinctly sub-par filmmaking full of clichés and lacking in real entertainment value. No one would call this their ultimate fantasy.
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