‘Fantasy Island’ Is Grotesquely Basic

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Marketed as a horror reimagining of ABC’s classic 1977 television series Fantasy Island, Blumhouse’s Fantasy Island spectacularly fails.

Businesswoman Gwen Olsen (Maggie Q), former policeman Patrick Sullivan (Austin Stowell), step-brothers J.D. (Ryan Hansen) and Brax Weaver (Jimmy O. Yang), and the rather mentally unbalanced Melanie Cole (Lucy Hale) — all from different walks of life — win a contest that brings them to Fantasy Island, an idyllic tropical resort where their fantasies will come true. After arriving, they meet the island’s “keeper,” Mr. Roarke (Michael Peña), who informs them that each can have one fantasy brought to life but they must see them through to their natural conclusion.

That night, J.D. and Brax fantasize about “having it all,” which comes true when coming upon a mansion pool party that’s filled to the brim with scantily clad models. The next morning, the other guests are taken to their fantasies. Patrick’s is to be a soldier in honor of his father, who died while serving; Melanie’s is to get revenge on a childhood bully named Sloane Maddison (Portia Doubleday); Gwen’s is to accept a marriage proposal she rejected five years prior. Soon, though, the group discovers that the island isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and must fight to survive.

The horror label feels misleading, as Fantasy Island lacks all the traditional aspects of a horror film like chills, thrills, excessive gore, and a final girl. I think the differing fantasies also further confuse things; switching back and forth from melodrama, war drama, sex comedy, and horror that’s reminiscent of the Saw film series. Regardless of what the genre truly is, it’s a jumbled mess.

From the writing to the production design, the whole movie reeks of desperation and poor quality. Rather than trying to be creative or even entertaining, filmmakers decided to give us a boring, vanilla interpretation of the story instead. It’s like wanting to go on vacation to an exotic island paradise and winding up in your parents’ garage —resplendent with tropical decorations that were picked up at the dollar store — instead. Yes, it’s kind of like what you wanted but has about as much depth as the shallow end of the pool.

The only remotely scary thing about Fantasy Island is that its ending left the door open for a sequel. One can only imagine the horrific filmmaking blunders that could potentially befall us in a second installment. Once wasn’t enough for Blumhouse, apparently. Given the film’s financial success (it has thus far grossed $33.8 million against a $7 million budget), it’s understandable.

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