Fantasy Island (2020)
Director: Jeff Wadlow
Writers: Jeff Wadlow, Chris Roach, and Jillian Jacobs
Starring: Michael Pena, Maggie Q, Lucy Hale, Austin Stowell, Portia Doubleday, Jimmy O. Yang, Ryan Hansen, and Michael Rooker
Plot: Guests are brought to an island where their greatest fantasies are brought to life, but often come with a darkside.
Review: This movie is a massive pile of shit. I usually like to start off with some more delicate preamble but I cannot help myself here. I hated Fantasy Island. I really, truly did. It’s such a dumb movie. I can’t believe that anyone who read this piece of crap script let this movie happen. I get that the budget was extremely low, but the artist value is even lower. This one hurt me on so many levels. Let’s get into it, shall we?
You know what? I’m just going to go into full rant mode. Call me lazy if you have to, but I can’t think of a way to put my thoughts on this movie into a proper review format. I’m just going to go over the whole thing and complain about it. That means there are going to be a shit ton of spoilers. If you’re not cool with that, either click away now with the full knowledge that I hated this movie or skim down to the TL;DR section. I’ll keep that spoiler free. Sorry. This just had to be done.
First of all, why are we even doing this? There is nothing about the original Fantasy Island that screams “This needs to be remade.” It’s a silly concept. It doesn’t really have any cultural legacy. And, most importantly to the studios, it has next to zero brand recognition with the younger crowd. So, we’re already off to a bad start before the movie even begins.
So, the movie starts off, as most do, by introducing us to our characters. And, immediately, I hated half of them. We have two brothers who are some of the most annoying douchebags I’ve ever seen portrayed on screen. They constantly high five each other. They have the worst catchphrases. And they’re trying waaaay too hard to be funny. And, I’m being serious when I said that I hated these guys. I didn’t want them to die in the movie. I just wanted to walk out so I didn’t have to spend another second with them. I don’t think I’ve ever had this strong of a negative reaction towards any character we’re supposed to like.
Almost as bad, we have (I guess) our main character, played by Lucy Hale. How does the movie choose to introduce us to her? By having her complain that there’s no phone service, double fist drinks, then hit on a guy in the way that had to be written by a roomful of men. Most porno flicks wouldn’t have her be that forward. But, guess what? Nothing even happens with that. There’s no romance in this movie whatsoever. The fact that she likes him never even comes up again. Like, what was the point of that incredibly stupid, sexist line? Were they trying to make us dislike these characters? They’re supposed to be our heroes so I don’t think that’s the case. I think it’s just bros writing for bros.
The rest of the characters were fine… I guess. At least I didn’t hate them.
So, then we jump into the fantasy sequences. This is where the movie cemented itself as pretty freaking bad for me. Because, again, this concept stinks. We start off with the douchebag brothers’ fantasy. They said they wanted everything. Apparently, this translates to just a constant party with hot models everywhere. It’s hard to watch these bros live the kind of life bros wish they could. Because, as stated, they are assholes. And the fantasy goes on for a little too long. But, then, once their fantasy blows up, it gets so much worse. See, “I want it all” was apparently translated to “I want to steal a drug kingpin’s house” by whatever bullshit this magical island works on and the criminals arrive to take back the house. I’m sorry, but WHAT. That’s the most contrived bullshit in the world. Do you know how many ways you can do the “monkey’s paw” thing with being rich? It’s literally one of the most common things brought up when people talk about being careful what you wish for. But, noooooo. Because this is a horror film, it’s gotta be freaking scary druglords with guns. I don’t buy it. This one seems like a stretch.
Meanwhile, we have Lucy Hale’s fantasy. She wants revenge on a childhood bully. Apparently that revenge comes in the form of having her old therapist (with his mouth sewed up because creeeepy) torture the bully. This one at least makes sense. It’s a bit extreme, but that’s what the island does. However, this is where most of the “horror” in this horror film comes from. And it’s simply not scary at all. The director clearly does not have an eye for the genre. Nothing made me jump. Nothing was tense. Hell, nothing was even that creepy. Plus, there was some torture porn stuff but the PG-13 rating meant they could never show anything. It’s so bizarre. I’ve seen a lot of shitty horror flicks, but nothing that failed this hard at being frightening. I legitimately think you could show this to the biggest chicken you know and they wouldn’t react at all.
Anyways, she saves the childhood bully from the doctor and then we learn the truth about the island. All of this magic is from a rock. In a cave. And the rock turns the water magic. Which helps grant the wishes. And, the person that runs the island somehow found himself in debt to the island. He has to serve up these fantasies or his wife will die. I don’t know. It’s a lot of twists and lore that all come across as overly complicated and stupid. Seriously, it’s so dumb. I’m actively trying to spoil it and I can’t.
The other two fantasies were fine when they were on their own. There’s a cop who wanted to be a soldier. He ends up serving alongside his father who died when he was a boy in a weird time travel situation. It’s almost touching at parts.
This one is also where we see their fantasies crossover as the military operation that killed the cop’s father was apparently supposed to storm the druglord’s house? I don’t know. It doesn’t make sense. One fantasy was set 30 years ago and the other was modern day, but we need to get these characters back together somehow, so… this works… kinda. Oh, and when people die on this island they become water zombies. Because magic water. But, honestly, more like because that’s scary. (?)
Don’t see this movie. It makes zero sense.
Then, there’s the girl that turned down the love of her life. We get to see her get reproposed to and live out her life with her new husband and child. It’s cute. It’s inoffensive. But, THERE’S A TWIST! She didn’t tell them about her actual greatest fantasy. You see, she’s made a bigger mistake. She accidentally started a fire years ago that killed someone. She wants to go back and undo that. Now, to me, that doesn’t sound like a fantasy. That’s just fixing a mistake. But whatever. That’s not the stupid part. When she goes back to the burning building, almost every one is there. The brothers were the dead guy’s roommates who never checked his room because they assumed he wasn’t home. The cop was outside and too afraid to go in. And Hale’s character claims she was at fault too because she had turned him down for a date. And my interest is gone. I don’t care anymore. This movie is awful. This is some Crash level forced “everyone is connected” nonsense. I’m out.
BUT IT GETS WORSE BECAUSE GUESS WHAT? THERE’S ANOTHER FREAKING TWIST! ARE YOU KIDDING ME? THIS IS LIKE THE TENTH TWIST OF THIS MOVIE! I’M TIRED OF IT. JUST PLAY OUT.
That twist? Lucy Hale is the villain! We’re in her fantasy. She didn’t turn the guy who died down. She loved him. And this was all revenge on the people who let him die. And, she counts her bully among them because she was responsible for the low self esteem that stopped her from checking up on him. Crazy, right? I never saw it coming… because it makes zero sense. If she really wanted revenge on these people, why did she save the bully? They just wave this off by having her say that she was pretending. But, as K2SO said, “I find that answer vague and unconvincing.” With that reveal, I was officially pissed. That was the last straw. I’m writing up this whole post, ruining everything for some potential people because of that twist. I hope it prevents someone from going through the same thing I went through. I’ll spoil this movie for everyone. It sucks. I don’t want people to see it. It’s my least favorite movie of the year so far. Heck, it might’ve been my least favorite movie of last year too. It’s that bad. I’d rather watch a double feature of Cats and Dolittle before I subjected myself to this nonsense again.
Then it wraps up in an incredibly stupid manner. I was already broken though. I was too checked out then to care and I’m too checked out now to write about it. It’s just so dumb. This whole movie is so dumb. I can’t believe anyone would like it. I don’t want to think about it anymore. But, I’m afraid that Fantasy Island has scarred my psyche. It will be with me till the day I die. I guess that’s my “monkey’s paw” to reviewing movies.
*END OF SPOILERS*
TL;DR: Fantasy Island is so very dumb and embarrassingly unscary. Please do yourself a favor and skip this one.
Score: 1/10 (Unbearable)