[Review] 'Fantasy Island' and Its Issues
Within the past couple of years, Blumhouse has established itself as a company that takes risks with what projects they choose to work on. They have chosen to help produce titles such as Get Out, Whiplash, and BlacKkKlansman, movies that have shaped cinema and have won countless awards for their phenomenal work. Blumhouse has also made horror movies that are good and enjoyable but aren't necessarily award-winning. Titles that come to mind are Happy Death Day, Paranormal Activity, Sinister, Insidious and The Purge franchise (a franchise I hold very close to my heart). You may be wondering, where does Fantasy Island fall in this? Where does it lie? Is it in between the award-winning and good + fun movies region? The answer is no. It lies at the very end of the spectrum. It simply wasn't good.
The movie follows a group of people who won a trip to Fantasy Island, an island where your biggest dreams can become real and you get to experience it. It seems magical: set on a beautiful island with beautiful ocean scenery, nice rooms to stay in, the host (Mr. Roarke) giving the guests free drinks and creepy people that take your bags to your room! What more could you want? Mr. Roarke gives instructions and rules about the island: one dream per guest, you have to let your fantasy play out no matter how terribly it goes, and you aren't allowed to change your dream. Pretty simple stuff. It's a good movie premise, based on the tv show that aired from 1977 to 1984 on ABC, it doesn't seem like a hard concept to make work, but alas.
I will preface this and say: I wasn't expecting an amazing movie. I didn't walk into the theater thinking that this movie will be absolutely phenomenal, would be talked about for months and then everyone would be mad it was snubbed at the next Oscars. I wasn't expecting that at all. I was expecting a fun horror movie that would give me two good jumpscares and then see it become a maze at Universal Studios' Horror Nights. Movies that make you think, cry and long for people you cannot hold is a beautiful thing that I really love about cinema, but sometimes it's good to just have fun. It's good to grab a bucket of popcorn and watch something that makes you laugh and smile and get excited and then you go home. But Fantasy Island failed to do that. I didn't get popcorn and the only time I was excited was when the credits rolled and the movie was done.
Fantasy Island is a movie that makes you ask yourself the question "what?" every 10 minutes. You sit there in a dark theater with 12 other people and wonder if anyone else is confused. It's not a confusing movie at all but there are moments when I wondered why these people have these fantasies. In the trailer for Fantasy Island, it shows Melanie (played by Lucy Hale) talking to another guest of the island saying her fantasy is getting revenge on a childhood bully that used to harass her relentlessly and it shows her getting the revenge she wanted but it turns out to be real and the girl who used to bully her is right in front of her and she is, essentially, torturing her and immediately wants to put a stop to it. This is a good way of showing how the island works and what terrible things can happen to your fantasies. She had a good fantasy, it made sense.
Melanie and Elena (played by Maggie Q) both had good and well-written fantasies. Elena regretted turning down a proposal and she wanted to accept it instead. Everyone else's fantasies didn't go well, however. Randall (played by Austin Stowell) wanted to go into war. He wanted to fight in a war. Later, it's explained that his dad fought in a war and died; Randall always wanted to fight but his mom told him not to. On the one hand, it makes sense. On the other, it doesn't at all and it just seems like such a strange thing to want. He wished to fear for his life. He could have wished for his dad to be alive or that his dad didn't die in the war but instead he wanted to fight in a war. The last two guests, brothers Brax (played by Jimmy O. Yang) and Bradley (played by Ryan Hansen) decided they want a pool party.
The thing about this movie is how the fantasy plays out and how people react to them make no sense a lot of the time. It's hard to comprehend why certain things are happening. There are twists that happen that don't make viewers confused instead of stunned because they makes no sense. It's like the person who wrote the film thought up two to three good ideas for the movie and about 30 bad ideas and said "perfect!" and just made the movie.
There's a scene where Elena is in her room and she hears a noise in the hall that leads to the bathroom, so she goes out to look and sees wet footprints on the ground that lead into the bathroom. As she follows it, she hears another noise, looks, and nothing is there and the footprints disappear. I have been thinking about it for the past day. It meant absolutely nothing. It adds nothing to the plot, nothing to the character, it's not even that interesting, it just happened and then it was over and was never brought up again. There are scenes where whenever someone was about to embark and live in their fantasy, blood would start dripping from somewhere. That also added nothing to the story. This movie is an hour and 49 minutes long and I felt like I was sitting there for four hours. It felt like I was in that theater for an eternity.
It was fun for maybe 15 minutes in total. The rest of the time was spent trying to understand why anything was happening. Why it was paced the way it was. Why Elena is named Elena in the credits and online but everyone in the movie calls her Gwen. Why two brothers both went "my fantasy is having a pool party". Why did half of the movie even happen? It's a good concept and I have heard great things about the original show the film is based on, so how did this end up doing the exact opposite? How did this get to a point where every 5 minutes, I wished it was over?
It could have been so good if the writer actually put in work for the movie. The actors are capable of doing the work and try to make the script work but it just doesn't. They tried their best with what was given. It was weirdly paced, a lot of scenes did not make an ounce of sense, some CGI was just out of place and horrendous to look at. As I continue to look back at what I remember from the movie, so many scenes do not add up to the conclusion on how they're all there. There was no history for any of it, no details, no one was really written like a real human being.
This whole movie didn't feel real. It somehow feels made up because how can a movie that's so poorly written be produced by a company like Blumhouse? I know Blumhouse is known for making bad horror movies from time to time but this? There are so many wishes these people could have chosen and this is what was written? It's kind of amazing how bad this was. It's amazing that at the end of it, my brain was still able to function. This movie tried to make so many different points about loving yourself, how to get over things that hurt you and how to apologize, but it did all of this so poorly and terribly that I had no idea who I was rooting for by the end of it.
In conclusion, Fantasy Island was not good at all. However, I still do recommend going to see it, because it's absolutely baffling how bad it is. Go with friends and hope that by the end, your friends don't leave you in the theater all by yourself.