Blumhouse’s “Fantasy Island” (2020): No Horror Fan – Movie Review
Fantastic island has come about as one of Blumhouse Films’ most and critically criticized efforts in recent memory. Amid a list of franchise sequels expected in 2020, this film had a lot to overcome as a winter release. Fantastic island was released as a horror version of the 1978 drama series which aired on television for seven seasons, and was to be a stylized update with a drastic change in tone (to the Split bananas (2019) – read our review here). There have been right things and wrong things. Let’s break down his fantasies and his follies.
Fantastic island was directed by Jeff Wadlow (Cry wolf 2005) and written by Wadlow, Jillian Jacobs (Blumhouse Truth or Dare 2018) and Chris Roach (Nonstop 2014).
Let’s start with the positives. The story revolves around five contest winners who fly to an island where they will see their individual fantasies come to life. This creative arc prepares the viewer for a journey that could bring build-up and terror to a number of places. The island itself is cinematically stunning, the editing is smooth, and the color grading for each of the individual fantastic locations makes them all unique and fresh.
The writers did a good job giving each character a clear motivation and a personal journey. For the most part, the acting is pretty strong. Mr. Roarke (played shyly by Michael Peña: The mule 2018) is the perfect guardian of the island, the man who holds the secrets of the place near his vest. Melanie (Lucy Hale: Pretty little Liars 2010 television series) is an avant-garde and outgoing woman who wants to avenge her childhood tyrant. Everything goes wonderfully like a tense coming-of-age story, and then the last half hour rolls out.
Now for the negatives. Fantastic island tries to be too cute and clever, unleashing round after round without giving either of them time to breathe. The simplicity of this film as a slasher or linear journey would have worked wonders, but instead viewers are scratching their heads, trying to figure out what they are watching.
The suspension of disbelief is possible in this setting because of the island, but some decisions of the characters will infuriate the audience. It sounded like sensory overload, but not in the sense of the mystery of the chair gripping. More in the sense that filmmakers squeezed twenty pounds of revelations into a five-pound bottle.
Some of the resolutions seemed to come from a young adult novel rather than the climax of a scary horror movie. The trip can be quite fun at times, but the destination makes you want to get off at the next stop. That said, Blumhouse took a shot at the genre and started building the blocks for a potential future franchise with a more satisfying climax.