Being an ardent lover of horror films, there has rarely been a plot, no matter how ludicrous, that couldn’t muster at least one bone-chilling shiver. But hey! Nothing is constant in life and nor was my good experience with this particular genre. And the credit goes to director Jeff Wadlow who not only wrote the screenplay but also directed Fantasy Island, available at your nearest movie theaters. Please watch it at your own risk…of losing your sanity.
If there ever is an official category for “Dullest Horror Movies”, Fantasy Island would come up to be one of the top strong contenders. Complete with depth-less characters that are meandering around in a directionless script, the film had a promising plot that could have been morphed had it been helmed by a better director than Wadlow whose last “masterpiece” was another horror flick Truth or Dare.
So, Fantasy Island is based on 1977’s Aaron Spelling TV show of the same name and the same plot of a mysterious island set somewhere in the South Pacific, where there is a tourist resort run by an enigmatic Mr. Roarke who makes wishes come true but at a big, mostly horrifying, price. But yeah, this 2020 is way too disturbing but not in a “Woah! What just happened?” way, more in “we could have totally done without it” way.
Fantasy Island starts with five lucky contest winners being transported to a lavish island resort, via a private seaplane, where they will get to enjoy an all-expenses-paid trip with the biggest perk ever- their wildest fantasies will be fulfilled. The island’s mysterious owner Mr. Roarke (Michael Peña) explains how every individual will get to live out their fantasies but there is a catch- these custom-made fantasies have to be seen to “their logical conclusion.”
At first, the conditions seem fair enough to the winner who all have their own unique fantasy. high-fiving brothers JD (Ryan Hansen) and Brax (Jimmy O. Yang) wish to “have it all”- money, alcohol, sex, and drugs and they are the first ones to get to experience their dream. Everyone else follows- Melanie (Lucy Hale) gets to exact revenge on Sloane (Portia Doubleday) who made high school hell for her, Gwen (Maggie Q) wanted to change the biggest regret of her life, and Patrick (Austin Sowell) gets the chance to join the army.
The excitement everyone feels soon turns into horror when they realize that these fantasies they are living are much more realistic than then they were told it would be. And this where their dreams transform into nightmares as the island turns on them.
But no matter how exciting the plot sounds on paper, the lack of any character depth or genuine backstory doesn’t allow the viewer to connect with the characters. So, even when any character’s life hang in the balance, all that you will be able to muster is indifference and a huge bored yawn.
The stories and fantasies of the different characters are haphazardly put together in a way that one morph into another without any logical sequence or warning. What is even more confusing and downright irritating is the ending or should we see ending? Whether Wadlow was confused over which worst way should he pick to end the 110-minute snooze fest with or he actually thought it was a good idea, he appears to have shot half-a-dozen different endings, at random and then thrown them together. So, not the “fantasy” we were looking forward to.