A group of contest winners arrive at an island hotel to live out their dreams, only to find themselves trapped in nightmare scenarios.
First of all, no, I have no knowledge of the TV series this film is based upon, and after watching Jeff Wadlow's adaptation, I'm definitely not watching anything related to this story. I always follow this principle: the two pillars of any movie are its story and characters. It doesn't matter if everything else is absolutely perfect. If the two central pieces fail to convince the audience, then the whole movie falls to the ground. Sometimes, there are some crumbles that remain intact. Very rarely, there's a big segment that has no scratches whatsoever, which can help the film to survive and, even more rarely, actually make it "okay".
Fantasy Island has two little crumbles named Portia Doubleday (Sloane) and Maggie Q (Gwen), who deliver good performances, especially the former who everyone knows from one of the best TV shows of all-time, Mr. Robot. Everything else is completely destroyed. The Grudge still has a couple of redeeming moments, but Fantasy Island is undoubtedly the worst movie of the year, so far. The before-mentioned two pillars are built with the most annoying, cliche characters, as well as a ridiculous narrative that ultimately brings the whole thing down.
The third act possesses some of the most nonsensical, irrational, and illogical plot twists I've ever witnessed. This is 2020's version of Serenity, also a movie with an absurd twist that only turns the film even worse than what it was. The big difference between the two plot twists is that Serenity's was predictable from the get-go. Fantasy Island's last twenty minutes are profoundly unexpected because no sane soul would have thought of such a baffling narrative decision.
The best way to describe the twist without spoiling a thing (and I won't) is through the editing. During the exposition-heavy revelation, the editing is so awkwardly choppy that it made me think it was all fake. I genuinely thought the plot twist was a false sequence. When I realized it wasn't, I simply laughed like a maniac because I couldn't believe someone thought this made logical sense. Usually, a plot twist carries some sort of build-up, even if it's literally a couple of minutes before the explicit revelation.
This one just happens. Without any preparation, a character just shows up on the screen and begins explaining everything. It simply doesn't make any logical sense. It generates so many incongruencies with the whole story that I lost count of the plot holes I was able to point out. The film starts with establishing a few rules, only for an hour later to ignore or change them completely. A particular character acts a certain way without any plausible reason as to why. If the screenplay wasn't messy and confusing enough, the characters are also horribly-written.
I never enjoy writing that an actor failed to do its job, but Ryan Hansen (JD Weaver) is the weak link of the cast, even if every single script is dreadful. Even the casting doesn't make sense: Michael Peña as a dramatic Mr. Roarke? A character supposed to be serious and mysterious? It's Michael Peña! I don't want to insinuate that he can only do comedy, but making him the villain (if I can call him that) is another addition to the list of questionable production decisions. Lucy Hale (Melanie) is fine as the protagonist, but it all comes down to the lazy, unimaginative scripts. Everything is so unbelievably messy that I don't even have any sort of technical remarks... Maybe that the beginning of the film and the actual concept look interesting. That's the only compliment I can think of: it wasn't a bad idea (different fantasies, different genres, it could have been a fun mix of styles).
Fantasy Island is undoubtedly the worst film of the year until now. Consider it 2020's version of last year's Serenity, but with a third act's plot twist that is so unexpected, everyone will have their jaws on the floor due to how nonsensical it is. The story wasn't close to being decent until the revelation, and it only turned into something a lot worse after it. Dozens of incongruencies and massive plot holes are generated due to the ridiculous attempt at a Shyamalan-like twist. If the absurd narrative decisions aren't enough, the horrible character scripts don't help the not-that-great acting, with the exception of Portia Doubleday and Maggie Q, the only good aspects of the whole movie. In the end, the two pillars of any movie (story and characters) are a total failure, making everything else fall apart with no possible salvation.
Blumhouse Productions, Columbia Pictures by Jeff Wadlow, Jillian Jacobs, Christopher Roach.
Stars: Michael Peña, Maggie Q, Lucy Hale, Austin Stowell.
Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Keywords: cave based on tv series remote island reality vs fantasy
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