What if you could live out your greatest fantasy? You could see or do anything, with no limits, but you had to accept the consequences, no matter how the fantasy plays out. Would you accept?
This is the premise of Fantasy Island – a new supernatural horror movie which has recently arrived on digital, Blu-ray and DVD. The film played in cinemas back in February, but due to the escalating situation with COVID-19 you might have missed it, so now is your chance to catch up.
For those unfamiliar with the name, Fantasy Island is a re-imagining of a popular 1977 TV series featuring Ricardo Montalbán. This movie version stars Michael Peña, Maggie Q, Lucy Hale and Michael Rooker, and is the latest horror release from Blumhouse Productions – the production company behind a string of hugely successful horror movies, including Paranormal Activity (2007), The Purge (2013), Get Out (2017), Halloween (2018), and The Invisible Man (2020), amongst others.
So, Fantasy Island is based on an existing property (which ran for seven seasons no less), was produced by an accomplished production company, and has a decent premise; but is it any good?
Well, it’s not bad, but it’s not quite what it could be.
Fantasy Island focuses on a group of strangers, who are all invited to a mysterious island to explore their hidden fantasies. The film works its way through each fantasy, detailing the highs and lows of wish fulfilment, and gives the guests what they want.
For one guest, her fantasy is the opportunity to correct a past mistake and gain a family in the process. For another, it is the chance to inflict pain upon a former school bully.
Each scenario offers something different, and each keeps the story moving forward, with the fantasies flipping from one to the next. Not all of the fantasies are as strong as the one before, but all offer the guests a chance to grow.
Where all this leads, I cannot reveal, but there is a little more going on than it would first appear. And for the most part, I did enjoy the ride.
Where Fantasy Island falls down is in the tone. There is nothing scary about the movie and I’m unsure who this is aimed at?
During the earlier moments of the movie, I got the impression I was in for something rather sinister, and that got me hooked. But as the film progressed, it became apparent that’s not exactly what I was getting.
There are some splashes of blood, and a few gruesome moments, but this film carries a 12 certificate, so it isn’t aimed at hardcore horror fans. This isn’t what I expect from a Blumhouse film, which has successfully managed to scare me with some of its pictures.
At times, I also felt like I was watching a slightly more adult version of Scooby-Doo, only without Scoob. Don’t get me wrong, I do love me some Doo, but that’s not what I want from Fantasy Island.
This could have been a much harder, much darker, horror movie. Instead it goes in too soft, almost as if it’s trying to wrestle with its identity.
It wants to be a cool new ‘re-imagining’, so pushes a horror angle, yet at the same time, it wants to attract 40-50 somethings who watched the show during the ‘70s. It can’t pull off both, and this leads to a mismatched movie that is neither one thing nor the other.
What I also think is bizarre is that this film was given a theatrical release in February. COVID aside, this picture should have been saved for the summer season, as Fantasy Island feels like a summer blockbuster.
My real issue here is that for me, Fantasy Island could have been stronger, and all it needed was a few tweaks and a higher certificate to help it find its way. As mentioned above, it’s not bad, and there is some interesting stuff in the movie, but it misses the mark.
Is Fantasy Island a life changing experience? No. Is it worth a watch? Yeah, it’s fine and it certainly provides some entertainment.
When it worked, I found myself asking for more of the same. When it didn’t, I was happy to just let it play out.
There is a good idea in here, it just gets lost in places. If Blumhouse ever returns to Fantasy Island, maybe the production company will grant my wish, to be scared.
Thank you for stopping by It’s A Stampede! to read this review for Fantasy Island. I hope it was everything you dreamed about and more.
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