Main cast: Michael Peña (Mr Roarke), Maggie Q (Gwen Olsen), Lucy Hale (Melanie Cole), Austin Stowell (Patrick Sullivan), Portia Doubleday (Sloane Maddison), Jimmy O Yang (Brax Weaver), Ryan Hansen (JD Weaver), Parisa Fitz-Henley (Julia), Evan Evagora (Nick Taylor), Charlotte McKinney (Chastity), Mike Vogel (Captain Sullivan), Robbie Jones (Alan), and Michael Rooker (Damon)
Director: Jeff Wadlow
Reimagining the TV series of the 1970s as a supernatural thriller is a most intriguing premise to me, so I am one of the first in line to watch this updated version of Fantasy Island. I should have known better. Blumhouse may deliver the occasional gem now and then, but their determination to be the new Full Moon Features means that the path of their ambition is strewn with disposable, forgettable, regrettable detritus films. They could have done great things with this movie, but I get instead something more akin to a full-length made-for-Syfy D-tier affair.
Basically, we have a bunch of people who apparently have won some contest to arrive at Fantasy Island, where they can live out their wildest fantasies. Because this is a tame movie, I hope people aren’t expecting fun fantasies like orgies and what not. Annoying stepbrothers Brax and JD Weaver (Brax is Asian and gay – a twofer for the diversity checklist) want a rave party, and when they do get it, apparently all they do is to sit down and act like failed stand-up comedians. Gwen Olsen, who is recovering from “a dark time” in her life, wants to go back to that she received a marriage proposal, and explores what could have been should she accept it. Patrick, a former cop, wants to enlist (he couldn’t in real life due to a promise he made to his mother) because his father, his hero, was a soldier. Sassy young lady Melanie Cole wants a chance to get back big time at her high school bully Sloane. Naturally, the mysterious man in charge of the whole place, Mr Roarke, will make each of their fantasies come true, although most of them will soon discover that each fantasy comes with a huge catch. The rave party gets crashed by armed members of a drug cartel, for example, while Patrick finds himself in the same platoon as his father… shortly before the older Sullivan will meet his fated demise.
All of these seem interesting on paper, but the movie itself is actually a slow, plodding movie featuring a bunch of poorly developed stereotypes going through what seems like an extended The Twilight Zone marathon of the most uninteresting episodes of that show. On the whole, each fantasy has predictable twists and turns, and what seems to have come out of the blue is unexpected because it is absurd. For example, zombies suddenly show up later in the episode. Why? Are there no spooks or ghouls that are more in theme with a tropical island? Much of the movie feels lazy, with props coming off like they had been recycled from previous Blumhouse films and filler scenes of these characters running over – while splitting up again and again – being used a cheap way to pad out the whole thing.
Throughout it all, Michael Peña feels sadly miscast as Mr Roarke, as he lacks any commanding presence to project this impression that he is the lord of all he surveys on this island. Maggie Q gets to emote convincingly a little, but the rest of the cast puts on a flaccid “Desperate to pay rent; acted in a Syfy film”-tier performance.
And finally, the twist. It’s unnecessary and pointless, adding nothing to the whole sorry bore of a film at all.
On top of that, this movie has a dismal body count, limpid gore, and some horribly rendered CGI, because the party isn’t happening until we get all these.
Fantasy Island has some fantastical possibilities, but the end result is more of an anticlimactic snooze.