Welcome to fant… actually… Welcome to Hell!
When a group of people turn up to a resort called Fantasy Island they are under the pretense that their stay will be the best holiday of their lives. While staying as guests on Fantasy Island, their deepest desire will play out in reality and they will get what they truly want. Initially everything seems to be blissful until one by one, the guests fantasies turn into nightmares until they are fighting to survive for their lives.
This film is directed by Jeff Wardlow, who, along with Chris Roach and Jillian Jacobs, also does the writing on it. For anyone too young to know, this film is loosely inspired by a TV series by the same name which ran between 1977 and 1984 which starred Ricardo Montalban and Hervé Villechaize. The TV series wasn’t as dark as this film, but the plot is similar; guests turn up to have their fantasies fulfilled, but it’s not always as it seems to be and often tests the strength of their character. To make things darker, inspiration was taken from “Cabin in the Woods” (2011) and the “Westworld” TV series (2016 – present). In this modern take on it, the Mr Sloan character played by Montalban is still present and played by Michael Peña. Villechaize’s character of Tattoo in the original is also present here, but it’s not made obvious till later in the film so I won’t spoil it.
There is a decent enough cast in the film, I’ve already mentioned Michael Peña who does well in the leading role. There is also Maggie Q, Lucy Hale, Austin Stowell, Jimmy O. Yang, Ryan Hanse, and Michael Rooker (to name a few) also thrown into the mix. They all perform ok, even if some of their characters aren’t necessarily written as deep and engaging – some in fact are written as stereotypical avatars of what could be seen as cool, or what could be seen as an ideal family unit. As far as the character writing is concerned, I had a bit of an issue with the Melanie character (Lucy Hale) – without spoiling anything too much, the audience follow her and see her panicking and fearing for her life. She can be seen talking to herself while she tries to escape. Heck, she even comes up with the escape plan. By the end of the film, without spoiling it, I was wondering if that wasn’t a massive plot hole. There were some other instances of lazy writing which kind of annoyed me too (the source of the fantasies mainly), particularly with some of the other plot twists – but again, I’m not going to start listing them all. What I will say is, that while this isn’t an Oscar worthy film, it is fun still.
All in all I think I would recommend this as a decent enough film to pass the time. I think it’s under rated and from what I’ve read on film websites, I think it’s been panned unfairly by a demographic of audience that need things explained, or have to have super glitzy blockbusters. There are enough nod’s to the original material, but this has been adapted well enough for a modern audience with good aesthetics and pacing. There a few instances of lazy writing which make certain things lack depth and appear a little predictable, but overall there is enough fun to keep you entertained. I can see a sequel to this being spawned, just maybe not with the same good casting due to the ratings this film is unfairly getting by keyboard warriors online. You can do a lot worse than watch this 2020 film.