Fantasy Island Image

Fantasy Island

By Anthony Ray Bench | February 15, 2020

I wish the film would have expanded on their characters a bit, but unfortunately, it does not. I’m torn on Michael Peña. I think he’s a fine actor with underrated comedic chops, but when he tries to play a villain, or in this case, morally ambiguous, he plays it too cold. I want to see him go unhinged and crazy. I want to see him revel in mischief and inflicted misery. He plays Mr. Roarke as a tortured man with a tragic backstory, but that backstory should have been far vaguer. The less I knew about Mr. Roarke and his intentions, the more I liked the character. Michael Peña deserves a bad-guy role where he can put the manic, quick-witted charm his character in the Ant-Man films has and give it a terrifyingly deranged flare. 

The scares are your standard PG-13 horror movie tropes. Leaky and bleeding black eyes? Check. Dull and uninspired jump scares? You know it! They even have a Jason Voorhees-style slasher villain (played by the physically imposing Ian Roberts) that, despite having a cool surgeon look, is completely wasted. There’s no gore or shocking and impactful deaths. It’s all pretty much kiddie stuff.

“…as scary as a toothless sedated puppy.”

As previously mentioned, the cinematography makes no effort to make the island feel magical or otherworldly. If you’re going to make a silly horror movie on a remote island, at least give the audience something pretty to look at to distract us from the laughable story and the weak acting.

I wish that the trailer audience were wrong on this one. I wanted Fantasy Island to be one of those horror movies with a lame trailer that actually ends up delivering a brilliant and surprising film. I honestly longed for this to be a diamond in the rough, but it’s not. It’s a laughably bad, generic, and bloodless PG-13 waste of two hours, and that’s everything I fantasized it wouldn’t end up being.

Fantasy Island (2020)

Directed: Jeff Wadlow

Written: Jillian Jacobs, Christopher Roach, Jeff Wadlow

Starring: Michael Peña, Lucy Hale, Maggie Q, Austin Stowell, Jimmy O. Yang, Portia Doubleday, Ryan Hansen, Parisa Fitz-Henley, etc.

Movie score: 5/10

Fantasy Island Image

"…Leaky and bleeding black eyes? Check."

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