Fantasy Island (1 star)

Fantasy Island

Inane horror reboot of the 70s TV show, starring the usually reliable Michael Peña

Why do people go to horror movies?' wonders a character in writer-director Jeff Wadlow's bloodthirsty big screen reboot of the Fantasy Island TV series, co-written with Jillian Jacobs and Christopher Roach. 'They want to feel something,' is the uninsightful answer. Viewers of this version of Fantasy Island may well feel boredom, embarrassment or frustration, but they are unlikely to feel entertained. Like the 2019 revision of kids' TV show The Banana Splits, unwisely revamped as a slasher movie, Wadlow (Truth or Dare) takes our blandest childhood memories and recasts them as nightmare fodder, to little effect.

Slumming it here is the usually reliable Michael Peña (Ant-Man, American Hustle) who takes over from Ricardo Montalbán as Mr Roarke, the mysterious host who welcomes unwary guests to his luxurious tropical island. The visitors include: Gwen (Maggie Q), who seeks to revisit a romantic failure; Patrick (Austin Stowell), who wants to become a soldier like his deceased father; and brothers JD and Brax (Ryan Hansen and Jimmy O. Yang), who have sex and drugs on their minds. First up, though, is Melanie (Lucy Hale), who is after revenge on a childhood bully – like all of Roarke's guests, her wishes come back to bite her.

Horror label Blumhouse Productions have been behind some truly innovative genre fare (Get Out, The Invisible Man), but they don't always demonstrate quality control. If Fantasy Island is designed to cash in on a familiar name from the past, it offers a notably inane set of storylines without any novel ideas. A white-suited Peña sidles up to each guest in turn, spouting endless exposition, yet each twist makes his casual air seem more ridiculous. If Blumhouse wanted to deliberately damage their own brand, Fantasy Island would be a good place to start. Those curious to discover the mysteries of this reboot can't say they weren't warned.

General release from Fri 6 Mar.

Fantasy Island

  • 1 star
  • 2020
  • 1h 50min
  • Directed by: Jeff Wadlow
  • Cast: Michael Pena, Maggie Q, Lucy Hale, Portia Doubleday

Mr Roarke (Peña) welcomes guests to his tropical island, only for them to discover that horror, etc., awaits. The bland 70s TV show is rebooted as a horror film, with the result being by turns boring, embarrassing and frustrating. Blumhouse’s quality control has failed spectacularly.