Blumhouse's Fantasy Island is partially based off of the 1977-1984 television series while taking the genre of the series and transforming it into a horror / thriller for a Blumhouse production. While I can't reflect back on the days of the television series, nor have I seen even a glimpse of the show in question, the film that Blumhouse presents to us, whether remake, reboot, or reimagining, it's an absolutely dreadful time at the cinema.
This isn't a joke, I literally left the theater and said "Jeff Wadlow should stop making movies." And that's honestly how I felt. That, or at least back away from the camera. The only above-average film the man has created was Kick-Ass 2, and that's primarily because of a riveting performance from Jim Carrey that only lasted half the film. Wadlow’s previous effort consisted of transforming the childhood game of Truth or Dare into a horror film and it was... Just as unimaginative and awful as it might seem from that premise. With Fantasy Island, Jeff Wadlow has created a much more professionally directed film this time around, with some reasonable cinematography and imagery to work with. However what Wadlow does with those attributes is make them into an editing nightmare, appealing more to the CW (Network) show crowds than to horror film enthusiasts or even casual fans. Wadlow needs to take a step back from the camera, enhance his craft, and possibly try again in a few years because unlike the critically pan Truth or Dare, which wound up making absolute bank at the international box office, Fantasy Island doesn't seem to be pulling that same luxury.
People tend to look at the amount of writers involved in the production and figure that the more people involved, the more convoluted the final product will be. That's not always the case, but here that's absolutely what happened; too many people tried to reach into the cookie jar at the same time. There is an unbelievable amount of twists and turns throughout the film, and they quickly became grueling to move forward with the plot.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Lucy Hale (Truth or Dare) leads this ensemble of characters that have come to the island with one goal: to have their dreams become reality. Lucy Hale isn't a leading woman; she fails to bring anything to the screen to make us even attempt to root for her. The only stand out among the cast is Michael Rooker's mysterious character, yet his character development is still so minimal that the only thing propelling him above the others is his performance. This is a shame because the cast has some great names attached: Michael Pena (End of Watch), Maggie Q (Live Free or Die Hard), Ryan Hansen (Veronica Mars), and Jimmy O. Yang (Silicon Valley); all not terrible in their delivery, but the words that spring from their mouths weigh them down. A dreadful script anchors the talents here and placing has the biggest role in the hands of Lucy Hale, an actress that has yet to prove herself outside television (for the second time) was a huge mistake by the casting director, the studio, and Jeff Wadlow. I will give it to the writers that even though they made some awful characters in Fantasy Island, they are memorable; not for their character traits but for their nonsensical behavior.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
It seems to be the common theme recently with these wide release horror films that the score is stripped down to bare bones with nothing left but generic overtone that drowns out all memories of it even existing. The bullets sound like bullets, the knife swings sound like they do in classic horror films (they make a noise), and the island sounds like, well, a piece of paradise. However what is transforming into a big issue in films is the sound effects that come before, during, and after a jump scare to help get your heart rate up, or at least that's what I'm thinking they're trying to do to us. These noises altered the organic nature of the scares and made the horror feel cheaper than it may actually be. It's a common thread that needs to be nipped in the bud right away before it continues to get out of hand.
Visually speaking, Fantasy Island resembles the quality of a CW television show, meaning the quality may be low, but it functions for the film. Fantasy Island has one adequate element to it though, and it's the visual style it encapsulates. Through the odd scramble of "horror" elements thrown throughout the island setting we are given a diverse mix of visuals. From an actually creepy Hostel style executioner to a generic black ooze causing the beings of the island to become "possessed" and brought back from the dead. You can't say you saw everything in Fantasy Island coming from a mile away, but that is exactly because the writers threw in everything but the kitchen sink to try to make something stick, and truly... nothing does.
"Smiles, Everyone, Smiles!"
Genre: Adventure. Fantasy. Horror.
Blumhouse's Fantasy Island isn't worth anyone's time, and I say that confidently, placing it just slightly (and I mean slightly) above the abysmal Truth or Dare. Some may categorize these two films as guilty pleasures that have a distinct cheesy nature to them, and I can agree that they're incredibly inferior to the traditional horror, meaning there’s certainly a better film out there. For myself, Fantasy Island didn't bring back nostalgic memories of the show, nor did it successfully send chills down my spine. The only thing it did properly was constantly perturb me with every single decision the screenwriters and directors went with. Twists and turns galore can get awfully nauseating as story arcs are thrown at the audience at a rapid frequency. If you enjoy Truth or Dare, maybe consider this as your next night in because you clearly enjoy the directorial style Jeff Wadlow brings to the screen, but for the majority who are not interested - steer clear as the Island does have secrets: countless plot holes, plot twists, disjointed performances, and short of passion for the horror genre.