Fantasy Island

At the Movies Blog

My grandmother is rolling in her grave. The same night that the Jewish Film Festival was happening at the Reading Town Square, I was getting a ticket to see Blumhouse’s take on Fantasy Island. I knew it was going to be bad (it was hovering around 10% on Rotten Tomatoes), but I had seen everything else and was having dinner nearby. And it had three things that made me figure it wouldn’t be a complete waste of my time. That would be the talents of Michael Pena, Kim Coates, and terrific comedian, writer, and actor Jimmy O. Yang.

I had never seen a single episode of Fantasy Island, but I knew enough about it having been a child in the ‘70s. There was Herve Villachaize as the dwarf that yelled “da plane, da plane!” (which is the first thing you hear in this film). I knew about Ricardo Montalban as Mr. Roarke, who runs the joint (although I was more familiar with him talking about “rich Corinthian leather” for car commercials than giving guests their ultimate fantasy). I’m guessing the younger people that are into the Blumhouse horror stuff, won’t get any of the references.

Pena replaces Montalban, and we assume he’s evil from what we saw in the trailers. You see, if these guests don’t “see their fantasies through” they end up getting killed. That doesn’t sound like a tall order. I don’t think I’d have a problem seeing things through with Sophia Loren in Rome; but this diverse group getting off ‘da plane’, has some difficulty. There’s Gwen (Maggie Q), who wants to go back to the proposal she turned down years ago. Patrick (Austin Stowell), who Brax (Jimmy O. Yang) says has a “racist haircut” (one of many funny lines)…wishes to have a military career. That’s a rather odd fantasy, since you’d think he could just get his groove on paintballing with friends, but whatev. 

Brax has a fantasy that involves muscular men. His brother has a fantasy that involves bikini clad women. That has them partying at a pool that reminded me of a skit out of Saturday Night Live with Adam Sandler and Chris Farley. 

The first half of the movie, my wife and I (and the half full theatre) were kind of having fun. Sure, the tone of the film was all over the place. It didn’t know if it wanted to be a comedy, horror film, or what. But there were enough good lines that you just go with the wacky premise. It’s a shame that the third act was just so utterly stupid. It brings up more questions, and you wonder why the movie didn’t stick with its own premise that was set up. You’re not sure who the good guys are, and you realize that you never really cared for any of the people on the island, as they’re not the most likable.

Melanie (Lucy Hale) has a fantasy that involves getting revenge on Sloane (Portia Doubleday). That premise borrows a bit from Cat’s Eye, Saw, and Carrie. And their story isn’t as compelling once a bizarre twist is thrown in later.

Speaking of things thrown in later, it’s rather bizarre when certain characters start to shoot black stuff out of their eyes and sort of turn into zombies.

Once character actor Michael Rooker shows up, as a grizzled crazy guy living in the woods, my wife leaned in and said, “This is one fu***d up origin story for Tattoo.”

When he explains how the island works (“It’s this here rock thing” and “it’s all in the water”) you really start to lose interest in it all. And that’s a shame, because when I heard lines like “I’m going to give you a tough, but fair Yelp review” I laughed out loud.

Let’s hope Blumhouse doesn’t tackle Love Boat next, infecting all the passengers with Coronavirus (too soon?).

2 stars out of 5.

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