It was an interesting television show back in the day, an island that can grant you any desire you want, though at a price. Welcome to Fantasy Island and the second review of the day is all about the wonderful world of Blumhouse modernizing the classic plot. Robbie K is back with another look at the silver screen wonders to determine is this trip to paradise worth the scares or not to dare as he reviews:
Movie: Fantasy Island (2020)
- Good Pace
- Nods To References
- The Satisfying Visual Appeal
- Funny At Times
- Better Character Development Than Expected
- Some Twists
- Michael Pena
- Most Characters Still shallow
- Plot Twist is Okay
- How Random The Island’s Gimmicks Are
- The Sudden Change Of Plot
- How Forced The Comedy Is At Times
- The Rushed Ending
- Not Scary
Blumhouse knows how to churn out the horror movies like a gumball machine, where they come out a quarter a ball and sometimes have no flavor at all. Fortunately a recurring theme that I like to see is that the movies do go at a decent pace, entertaining and fun to capture a variety of attention spans. Fantasy Island is a quick paced adventures that tries to juggle “original” stories while still keeping to the feel of the original series. I appreciated the nods to the references in this movie, some very well integrated, others forced and not as satisfying. One thing I think many people agreed was that the film immerses itself in the superficial pleasures movies have taken on, mainly in the form of bikini clad hot people, handsome perfect matches, and those oh so satisfying horror elements that etch in our minds. It’s all about the Pleasure Island effect and for the younger generation it works. This is also true with the comedy, a movie that does little to integrate wit and wonder, instead going into those reality TV tropes that MTV made famous and latching on to them. It was funny for me at times, but overall a bit stale and forced.
Yet I’ll give them props that they managed to defy my expectations and give better insight into characters than I anticipated, primarily in three characters whose stories ran a bit deeper than the G-strings the extras wore. I tried to grapple on to these characters for the most part and figure out if there was a deeper connection to the story over all. This does not happen that often either, but the movie got me with a few twists and while not my favorite, I have to give them points for surprising me. My favorite thing would have to be Michael Pena though. While not the best acting job he has done, I think he inherited the island’s owner role well, and makes for an interesting piece in what could be a series. I’m not sure where they will take him, but he has that cool, collected charm that is both comforting and deadly at the same time. He makes for a complex character, who holds many secrets that unfortunately were not fully delivered on for me.
Now in terms of what is decreasing scores, that comes in the form of the incomplete and sort of left wing twist they pulled into this film. First of all, despite trying to develop the characters, they did not quite deliver the full force of development that I think they were going for. Most of the characters start to represent certain character paradigms, but these political charged issues get swept under the rug for more superficial fun and “horror”. Even the ones with a deeper well of development sort of become flaky figures whose indecisiveness is more annoying than fresh for this reviewer. As they try to resolve their character flaws, the after school special approach kicks in to not give a satisfying finish, but instead just bluntly finish the film. Forced humor does not help make things better, with so many tropes from two of the characters becoming annoying as they fall into the new generational tool bag approach that somehow keeps selling. The comedy to relieve the “tension” of the film does not work for me and felt unnecessary at times.
Much of this has to do with that plot twist, a curveball that was thrown to offset the stagnant pond, only to cause ripples in wrong way. It’s a forced introduction to justify the interconnected stories and sort of becomes an eye rolling experience when everything is explained. It’s because of this twist that the plot of the movie changes, going from horror mystery to action mystery that does little to embrace the alluring wonders this island might have. Even the plan to handle the island changes three to four times, showing potential indecisiveness or panic at trying to force this twist into the film. And because of the change in the horror approach, the island’s gimmicks, the things the trailer was using to rope you in, start to become cheesy pieces/obstacles who only serve to push the characters to make bad decisions rather than become the character developing pieces they want. It’s almost like watching someone cheat on a video game, where the goal is not so much to win, but to survive until the movie’s time runs out. This lazy finish to a buildup that seemed interesting and further dilutes both the story and scares.
This brings me to the last two points. First the ending of the film feels very rushed. The twist getting forced at the end sort of discombobulates the pace of the plot and as the waves are settling, the directors seemed to want to quickly tie it up to not go past two hours. The piece meal finish is not very suspenseful and the quick wrap up only has some relief from the heart string pulling shot that comes in the final moments of the film. Yet the biggest thing is, the scares of the movie are rather null and void. Fantasy Island has little in terms of bone chilling terror or mentally scarring moments, again forced to dilute these components to keep the PG-13 rating. It’s this lack of scares that sort of makes the movie boring and thus, I had wished they had gotten a little more creative with their gimmicks the way Scary Stories did back in August.
Is this movie as bad as a 22 on Metacritic? I don’t really think so. Fantasy Island falls into the trend of making a superficial movie that has all the gleam to attract you with little sustenance to keep you nourished. It’s a great opening horror movie for the younger generation to wet their feet, as it attempts to get some relatable issues on the table, add a small amount of character depth, and still give the “thrill” of the chase. Yet where the movie falters is in its ability to really tie this adventure together, managing to put a twist into the film, but not in the artful form to pull everything together. Even worse, the movie’s rushed ending and lack of scares just makes this an MTV television series with a more bloated budget. While the performances do their best to handle the characters, there is not enough meat to this islands presentation to say it’s the best horror movie, but there are enough special effects gimmicks that can make a night out with friends worth the theater visit. Otherwise hit this one up later on down the road when it hits streaming.
My scores are:
Movie Overall: 5.0