Fantasy Island (2020)

fantasy island poster 2020 movie
4.5 Overall Score
Story: 4/10
Acting: 6/10
Visuals: 4/10

Idea is right

Dull fantasies, not very interesting

Movie Info

Movie Name: Fantasy Island

Studio: Blumhouse Productions

Genre(s): Horror/Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Release Date(s): February 14, 2020 (US)

MPAA Rating: PG-13

fantasy island mr roarke michael pena

Welcome to my island of dull fantasies

Come to Fantasy Island and enjoy the dreams you have always had, change a mistake you made, or see someone you thought you lost.  Melanie Cole (Lucy Hale), Patrick Sullivan (Austin Stowell), Brax (Jimmy O. Yang), J.D. Weaver (Ryan Hansen), and Gwen Olsen (Maggie Q) have won a free weekend to Fantasy Island to fulfill their wishes with Mr. Roarke (Michael Peña) and his assistant Julia (Parisa Fitz-Henley) as their hosts.  Melanie, Patrick, Brax, J.D., and Gwen are about to discover that dreams come at a price.

Directed by Jeff Wadlow (who also co-wrote the movie with Chris Roach and Jillian Jacobs), Fantasy Island (sometimes called Blumhouse’s Fantasy Island) is a science-fiction horror film.  The film is based on the TV series Fantasy Island (1977-1984).  The movie was largely panned by critics but a modest success at the box office (in a year when the pandemic later shut down theaters).  The film was nominated for Razzies for Worst Picture, Worst Supporting Actress (Lucy Hale, Maggie Q), Worst Screenplay, and Worst Remake, Rip-Off or Sequel.

My family wasn’t a Fantasy Island family.  I remember the show coming on because we did watch The Love Boat, but I don’t really recall ever watching Fantasy Island.  With no nostalgia to really wrap me in, Fantasy Island has a fresh slate for me…but it quickly wears out its welcome.

fantasy island lucy hale portia doubleday

Caught in a fantasy? Just add water

I give the movie this, there isn’t one of those long “everyone gets invited” scenes to the movie.  The movie kicks off with the arrival on Fantasy Island and then delves into the groups fantasies which include revenge against a childhood bully, choosing to accept a marriage proposal, connecting with a dead dad, and having the ultimate party.  It does feel kind of indicative of Fantasy Island’s plots, but it takes a horror turn and ties all the stories together in a mystery…who’s fantasy is it?  While as the audience, you stop carrying pretty quickly, the movie also adds a Lost element to it with the magical island being powered by something resembling the Dark Crystal.

The cast is really above this movie.  Maggie Q gives the best performance of the group as a woman who can have the life of her dreams but realizes she must reject it.  Austin Stowell, Jimmy O. Yang, and Ryan Hansen are all kind of a waste as dull fantasies and characters.  Lucy Hale and Portia Doubleday have an interesting relationship in the film and Michael Rooker shows up as the typical Michael Rooker character.  Michael Peña’s Rourke just doesn’t have the flare and fun of Ricardo Montalbán and though his treatment through the original series was probably politically incorrect, I really wanted Hervé Villechaize type character (they try to pay it off in the end).

fantasy island magic source

Wait…the whole island is powered by the Dark Crystal? Where are the Gelflings?

The movie largely doesn’t use the island location of the film (but that makes sense in many ways).  Like the series, the characters all go off on their own fantasy, but the visuals of the fantasy are rather lame.  There’s a supervillain in Dr. Torture, but I wish that more of the fantasies were visual.

Fantasy Island is a rather flat and dull “horror” thriller.  It doesn’t have any scares, jumps, or surprises so calling it a horror movie is a bit of misnomer, but it also doesn’t have any interesting reflections on what the island is providing for the characters.  It starts to try, but it turns into an unsatisfying quasi-mystery.  With a decent box-office return on a relatively cheap movie, we might be visiting Fantasy Island again soon.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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