Let’s go on vacation.
Remember Fantasy Island, the horror film that came out earlier this year? It’s okay if you don’t. I think the film was largely forgettable for most folks who saw it. However, with this being another Blumhouse production the movie is (tragically) one of the few flagship horror films of 2020.
I know a lot of people enjoy Blumhouse films, and some of them are good, but they are the largest reaching company in the genre. With such a wide reach you’d think they’d have some quality control. This film is so bad that it will likely detract people from ever bothering with a horror film again if this is their first outing. Further, this film is so cut down and self-consciously considerate to maintain a PG-13 rating there is a decent chance this was the first horror film for some.
The island hosted by Mr. Roarke (Michael Pena) promises to give you your literal fantasy. However, you must see the fantasy through. Roarke is given a smattering of horror movie tropes forcibly molded to look somewhat like human characters. Five minutes in and we get the same stupid, stilted, and forced dialogue that plagues so many horror films. I swear, they must be written by sentient plants “hoomans talk this way.”
In short, the characters suck. None of them are engaging or interesting. The forced interactions with them is about as entertaining as cleaning an oven. Perhaps even more annoying is the fact that the characters are written in a way they know they are in a horror film. Nearly endless questions about how the island words are meant to beat the viewer over the head with the fact that something isn’t what it seems. Well, no shit, I think people are aware of the type of film they went to see.
I had hoped they would make the wishes a sort of monkey’s paw and force the guests to confront the inner hubris of their fantasies. Two brothers (honestly, perhaps two of the worst written characters in a mainstream horror film of the last decade) “want it all” and “all” means a loud and obnoxious party with plenty of free sex. What would have been interesting is to show what happens when someone has it all and everyone else, by definition, has nothing. Unfortunately, the writers here opted to instead have the mansion/endless party somehow stolen from a drug lord and now others want it.
The whole thing is so stupid it is almost hard to put into words. The idea of fantasies turning bad is nothing new. There are literal medieval folk tales about such things, so how they screwed this one up so badly is beyond me.
The above example is one of about seven plotlines running through this bloated and boring mess. They tie it all together with a stupid twist that should have never made it out of the brainstorming session. With so much going on (with unengaging characters) it is impossible to not be clock-checking before even the halfway mark.
The film boasts the Blumhouse shine, so production value is above par. The film is so cautious to keep a PG-13 rating that even the “unrated” addition contains such little blood it is obvious they never even filmed with these effects in mind. We end up with a horror movie for kids marketed to teenagers based on a television show our parents (or even grandparents) enjoyed. Yeah, shocking this one had some trouble. (Granted, it made money hand over fist, so expect more of this sort of slop in the future).
The worst part of the movie is how poor the story is. We get scenes that cannot be or would not be once we know the twist. Moments are constructed simply as red herrings to prevent the audience from seeing the twist coming. If you falsely construct the narrative and break your own rules the audience will ultimately feel cheated. This is a terrible film and a low mark for 2020.
One of the worst of the year. This isn’t even worth mocking.