Be careful what you wish for — it might just come true!
Yes, the old Monkey’s Paw cliché is painstakingly resurrected in Fantasy Island, a Blumhouse dud that flails in its attempts to explain the logistics of a magical island that makes fantasies come true before imploding under the weight of multiple twists that boggle the mind.
Fantasy Island starts off like any episode of the 1970s TV show upon which it is based: a planeload of guests show up at the mysterious titular island, minus any backstory to help us learn who these people are, how they learned about the island, or why they bought into this nonsense. You might be relieved to not hear anyone exclaim “De plane! De plane!” at this point – – but just wait. Just wait.
Aboard the plane are Gwen (Maggie Q), who wishes she had accepted her ex-boyfriend’s marriage proposal years back, Melanie (Lucy Hale), who still bears a grudge against her high school bully Sloane (Portia Doubleday), Patrick (Austin Stowell), who would like to see his deceased father one last time, and brothers J.D. (Ryan Hansen) and Brax (Jimmy O. Yang), who just want to live it up like millionaires.
And once they get to the island run by Mr. Roarke (Michael Peña), their fantasies magically become a reality. But there’s just one rule: each guest must let the fantasy fully play out.
That turns much of Fantasy Island into a slog as we watch four disparate storylines play out in exactly the same way: Melanie discovers that torturing her old nemesis isn’t really all that fun, Patrick meets his father – but in a jungle war zone, J.D. and Brax initially have some fun before running into the drug dealers that want in on their wealth, and Gwen is happy in marriage, but, uh… not so happy with the fantasy aspect of this scenario?
If you’re wondering where the scary elements might come into play from this Blumhouse production, well, there’s a hulking brute Melanie calls ‘Doctor Torture’ like that’s supposed to mean something to us, and nothing throughout the rest of the fantasies that could be classified as horror.
And while the original TV show ran for 7 seasons without viewers questioning the precise reason the fantasies were coming to life, the producers of this 109-minute movie wouldn’t dream of leaving their audience in suspense. So we get Michael Rooker as a private investigator to tell us all about a strange crystal in a dark and perilous cave at the center of the island which interacts with rainwater and creates magic fantasies for anyone who drinks it? Or some such nonsense.
The final 15 minutes of Fantasy Island, meanwhile, are truly something to behold: not one but two twists that reveal why the film didn’t give us any background on these characters, and completely contradict all the rules the rest of the movie had been painfully attempting to establish in the process.
During the final moments of Fantasy Island, as the film laughably attempts to reveal itself as a prequel establishing the Rourke-Tattoo relationship (which will mean little to this movie’s target demographic) and set up future sequels, any remaining audience members will be thoroughly baffled. Poor Peña sludges through Fantasy Island as if he were embarrassed to be there, and by the end, you just might be embarrassed to be there, too.