Fantasy Island (2020)
Directed by: Jeff Wadlow
Written by: Jillian Jacobs, Christopher Roach
Starring: Lucy Hale, Maggie Q, Charlotte McKinney, Evan Evagora, Portia Doubleday, Michael Pena
One would have thought that the time of Hollywood adapting old TV shows into movies was dead and gone. Unfortunately for everybody, the creators behind 2018s “Truth or Dare” convinced Blumhouse to give them more money to take the 1970s TV show “Fantasy Island” and adapt it into a 2020 horror movie.
Sounds great on paper right? Wrong
Not only is “Fantasy Island” one of the biggest misfires of 2020, it’s a film that single-handedly fails in every single aspect of filmmaking. This movie is – wait for it – worse than “Truth or Dare”.
Characters? What Characters?
How is this film worse than “Truth or Dare”? Well to start, the writers had to give us characters to completely root against; something that’s easily accomplished in the first 5 minutes.
You have two “brothers” cracking terrible jokes with their insufferable dude bro attitudes. Then you have anarchy goth chick, clearly stating just how sexual and horny she is. Finally, to top it all off, you have generic military man who, gosh golly, just wishes he could have served in the military!”
Every single character in this film is insufferable; there is not a single person worth rooting for even though at points, you’re clearly meant to. So by the end of this film (if you can even make it that far) audiences will be rooting for these characters to die grizzly deaths. Oh wait, this is a PG-13 horror movie; can’t have any cool death scenes now can we?
Can PG-13 Horror Go Away Forever??
Outside of 2018s “A Quiet Place”, slapping the PG-13 movie on a horror film is an instant red flag. Sometimes the best aspects of horror movies are the unique kills, disturbing scares or the ability to have no restrictions. The horror genre is the one exception where not having an R rating severely hurts the overall quality of the product.
“Fantasy Island” encompasses everything that gives PG-13 horror it’s bad reputation. Creative decisions like cutting away from the bloody scenes, not being able to drop F-bombs, and not being able to do anything creative outside of the generic jump-scares. Every single jump scare is so poorly executed and so clearly predictable that audiences will say “and there will be a jump-scare in 3-2-1”. Seriously, it’s that much of a giveaway.
But then again, what do you expect from the creators of “Truth or Dare”? So unless you are an insanely creative director, PG-13 is the stamp of death for a horror movie. Well that and having Michael Peña as your movie villain.
For the record, Michael Peña has examples of being a fantastic actor for certain roles. Examples like “Ant-Man”, “Fury” and “End of Watch.” He can really bring it when it comes to drama and humor or being that street smart police officer. What he isn’t though, is an intimidating and creepy horror villain.
There is not a single time where you buy him as an evil island owning mastermind. This is by far his biggest miscast since playing a playboy in “Chips”. Sorry, but no one on the planet Earth buys Michael Pena as a ladies man and certainly no one will buy him as a scheming evil-doer. Just another poorly executed idea, in a film filled with poorly executed ideas.
“Fantasy Island” doesn’t just fail at being a horror film, it fails at being a film in general. This is the type of movie that is so horrible, so terribly ill contrived, that everyone would rather not acknowledge that it ever happened in the first place. It’s a pure disaster in every aspect of filmmaking; characters, scares, cinematography, jokes, story, drama, everything falls flat on its face.
“Fantasy Island” won’t just go down as one of the worst films of the year, but one of the worst films of the century. Scratch that, “Fantasy Island” is one of the worst films ever made.