At a glance, BlumHouse’s latest movie looks to be a low-budget horror film, not unlike many others. While, in a sense, this is true; Fantasy Island has so much more to offer than its tacky, bargain bucket veneer first chooses to show.
The movie offers up and interesting angle and one that I feel to be unique to the horror genre. This lays the foundations for an interesting film that makes Fantasy Island stand out from the many copy-and-paste movie plots of recent years.
A Refreshing Plot
When suave island owner, Mr Rourke (Michael Pena) invites a handful of not-so-lucky guests to his island to live out their wildest fantasies; things are not all that they seem. To live in a mansion that would have had Peter Stringfellow himself in fits of jealousy; to go back and alter a life-changing decision of your past; finally getting the chance to take revenge on your childhood bully; these all sound like ideal situations if the opportunities were to ever arise. However, forces at work are sticklers for detail and like to read between the lines.
As each visitor to the island is thrust into their dream situations, their worlds slowly intertwine. As the group are faced with a tirade of bizarre situations, they must confront their pasts in order to survive.
Thoughts on Fantasy Island
Fantasy Island isn’t slow off the blocks and opens up with a kidnapping that sets the story rolling from the very start. That being said, the early parts of Fantasy Island seem low-budget; uninspired and performed with an acting prowess I have often seen bettered at school nativity plays. The early parts of Fantasy Island seem low-budget, uninspired and performed with an acting prowess I have often seen bettered at school nativity plays. As the film develops, however, deeper layers are revealed as it takes a somewhat interesting turn.
Reminiscent of the old “Tale of the Monkey Paw” in which three wishes were granted, with each one having disastrous consequences; Fantasy Island takes a very similar path. When all the characters’ pasts begin to cross, a larger truth is finally realized.
Michael Pena’s (Narcos, American Hustle) provides an enigmatic presence throughout the film as what can only be described as the Willy Wonka of the movie’s mysterious island. Slightly sinister – albeit suave and charming – Mr. Rourke is the island’s curator and seems to know all about its many secrets. Pena’s performance is a main highlight of the production and displays well his broad ability.
I can see why there’s a general dislike of the Fantasy Island, but a lot of those grievances weren’t apparent in my experience. I enjoyed the film from start-to-finish and appreciated the vein of comedy ran through it with brothers, JD and Brax. The unlikely brothers do threaten to turn Fantasy Island into a stoner flick throughout, however. With an abundance of dialogue straight from a Bill and Ted movie and with equal amounts of weed references; Brax and JD don’t seem to fit in to the rest of the cast, but their appearances are always welcomed with their off-the-cuff, light-hearted nature.
Fantasy Island: Summery
I don’t know If Fantasy Island could even be classed as a horror movie. Don’t get me wrong, dear reader; at times it does try all too hard to meet the benchmark. While their efforts are admirable (when not cringy); I wouldn’t go out and rent or buy Fantasy Island in a hurry. If you’re looking for something to chill you to your bone, or even cause the occasional, fleeting feeling of dread; Fantasy Island will not provide your self-scaring needs.
As a comedy/thriller, however, the movie does offer a degree of substance and is generously peppered with dashes of comedy. The comedy in itself is probably an acquired taste, but once you see through the corny surface, you will be met with a wholly fun film. ‘Fun’ isn’t a word that I would often use to describe a horror film. In this case, however, the word seems to fit perfectly.
If you can take the film with a pinch of proverbial salt; you will surely enjoy at least some parts of it.