VOD film review: Fantasy Island
James R | On 16, Jul 2020
Director: Jeff Wadlow
Cast: Michael Peña, Maggie Q, Lucy Hale
Get Out, The Gift, Sinister, Creep. Blumhouse has been responsible for some of the most impressive horror films of the past decade. With The Invisible Man and The Hunt still lingering in the air, though, the scariest thing of all is that it can also produce an unexpected misfire. Welcome to Fantasy Island.
A reimagining of the ABC TV series from the 1970s, it introduces us to the titular island where its guests’ fantasies are brought to life. Our window into this mysterious world are business whiz Gwen (Maggie Q), outsider Melania (Lucy Hale), former cop Patrick (Austin Stowell) and stepbrothers JD and Brax (Ryan Hansen, Jimmy O Yang). They soon cross paths with Patrick’s father, Melanie’s high school mean girl Sloane (Portia Doubleday), and Gwen’s ex-partner, all of whom hold the key to what the guests wish for most in the world.
But needless to say, there’s trouble in paradise, and the island’s overseer, Mr Roarke (Michael Peña), knows more than he’s letting on. Given that inevitable reveal, Fantasy Island has two choices to make our vacation worthwhile: go all out in the terror department or dial up the knowing comedy. Some of the best genre franchises, such as Scream, even pull off both, but Fantasy Island – which also hopes to spawn a series of sequels – can’t decide which route to take, and ends up lost halfway round its coast.
The script, by Jillian Jacobs and Christopher Roach along with director Jeff Wadlow, is lacking depth or wit, and the motivations that end up driving the sinister goings-on is as dubious and dull as the set pieces that fail to surprise or shock. Michael Peña, meanwhile, is stranded in the middle of the script, given no option but to wish to be somewhere else. Unexciting and unentertaining, it’s a disappointingly missed opportunity that won’t leave you booking a repeat trip.