There’s stupid – and then there is Fantasy Island.

A ham-fisted, nonsensical, bewildering mess of a film, seeing this mere days after Blumhouse’s stunning The Invisible Man left me wondering what exactly goes on in their company ‘greenlight’ meetings.

A riff on the 70/80s TV series (although none of the youngsters in my screening seemed to realise that), the story is simple enough – a gaggle of ‘competition winners’ turn up at said island, hosted by Roark (Michael Pena) and promised that all (or at least one) of their fantasies will come true – whatever it may be.

The fantasies vary wildly – we have Gwen (Maggie Q) wanting a do-over on a missed marriage proposal, Patrick (Austin Stowell) angling for a spell as a soldier, JD (Ryan Hansen) and Brax (Jimmy O. Yang) as brothers wanting the party life, while Melanie (Lucy Hale) goes a bit darker, wanting revenge on a school bully.

Sure enough, these fantasies do indeed start to become reality – but as the journey continues, the guests realise all may not exactly be what it seems – and darker motives are afoot…

I really don’t want to say too much more, because Fantasy Island is one of those films that will have you rolling your eyes at so many moments you will probably leave with vision issues.

The writers clearly think that plot twist after plot twist comes across as ‘clever’, but instead the turns the movie makes are nothing short of baffling. We have twists that do not make any sense, twists which render a lot of what you have seen pointless and twists that are likely to make you angry hours later.

In fact, when the ‘truth’ is finally revealed, it is so ludicrous that we even have one of the characters pointing out just how ludicrous it is – thereby allowing the writers to think they have ‘got away with it’ (they haven’t).

The film is entertaining in a way (I wasn’t bored) and the sight of Michael Rooker in loon mode raises a smile.

But the characters are intensely annoying for a lot of the running time, the violence is suggested but not really shown, we get a couple of those toe-curling ‘let’s stick together only to then immediately separate’ moments and a couple of ‘they weren’t actually that bad after all’ shifts towards the climax almost beggar belief.

There is little doubt that Fantasy Island had room for a darker, sinister slant on desire (it’s not far removed from the likes of Westworld after all) but director Jeff Wadlow’s effort is just plain silly.

Movie Review: Fantasy Island
2.0Overall Score
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About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written three books - on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014), the history of the character Norman Bates (2015) and the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker (2017). He is currently working with director Richard Loncraine to explore all avenues in a bid to orchestrate the re-release of 1978 Mia Farrow chiller Full Circle