The Dumpster Fire of Absurdity: Our Review of ‘Fantasy Island’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - February 16, 2020
The Dumpster Fire of Absurdity: Our Review of ‘Fantasy Island’

Sometimes you just have to see something in order to actually believe it…

To say that Blumhouse’s Fantasy Island is one of the more insane things that this critic has ever seen wouldn’t QUITE be doing this film justice.  Rarely have we seen something that so aggressively flaunted any hope of making sense, while still being as entertaining as all hell.

In Blumhouse’s new spin on Fantasy Island, the enigmatic Mr. Roarke (Michael Pena) makes the secret dreams of his lucky guests come true at a luxurious but remote tropical resort. But when the fantasies turn into nightmares, the guests have to solve the island’s mystery in order to escape with their lives.

Make no mistake…Fantasy Island is terrible…but it’s so unabashedly terrible that you just can’t help but get some entertainment value out of opening laughing at this nearly two hour movie before we even get out of the first act.

Before we go any further…yes this is an intended ‘reboot’ of sorts of the TV series as it has some subtle and occasionally sly nods but that’s where it ends.  From very early on, this movie shrugs off logic like Jay-Z the dirt off of his shoulder, it’s insane…but they’re kind of leaning into it.

Director Jeff Ludlow certainly has a serviceable track record as a director and makes a good looking movie that has some actual flow to it all, but the material is so chaotic and messy that it’s hard to really get invested in anything that happens, and when it keeps doubling down on the silliness and random plot intersections, you can’t help but throw up your hands and laugh at it all.

The script from Wadlow, Christopher Roach and Jillian Jacobs is an onslaught of inept sequences that are only connected by a terribly thin thread.  When it’s not dull and uninventive it’s laughable and ridiculous.  It’s actively not trying to make sense as each of the characters that we get introduced to get sent on their “Fantasies” that they must see out to their logical conclusion. The script thinks it’s being clever and adding some various levels of intrigue but in reality is piling on layers of nonsense that just aren’t as smart as it thinks it is.  It has the heart of a coke fueled pitch that came straight out of the 1980’s and never really commits to the morality play that it wants to shoehorn into this story.  It’s not scary and it makes TV to big screen adaptations like Scooby-Doo & Starsky & Hutch feel like Academy Award caliber fare.  It’s barely a film and plays like a failed and morally bankrupt attempt at a blend between an Andy Sidaris film and a Friday The 13th film somewhere between Pt 4 and Pt 8.

The ensemble cast is not helping as Michael Pena feels like he’s trolling the film while making it, Maggie Q is barely awake, Lucy Hale is overacting at every turn while the likes of Michael Rooker, Portia Doubleday and Jimmy O Yang are spewing random catch phrases and being wide eyed as possible while the great Kim Coates is overacting his ass off like a professional.

Please understand…Fantasy Island is terrible for many of the reasons that I’ve listed above.  But that being said, at some point you’ll just laugh your ass off at it because if everyone involved was actually serious about making an engaging and compelling Blumhouse style thriller, then I’ll just get even more depressed.

This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like Examiner.com, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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