Fantasy Island is a terrible movie. But it is also ambitious. It wants to be a mystery movie packaged into a horror one. It also tries to tell us something about the human condition. Our fantasies are rarely what we expect them to be - it seems to be saying - before giving up on everything it had tried to achieve in the first and second acts and becomes a campy revenge movie by the third act. Only one thing is clear. The movie is a complete waste of time.

The film is an adaptation of a 70s TV show of the same name. I remain to be persuaded that such adaptations have marketable value given that a large portion of the film going audience is very young. Contrary to popular belief that younger generations prefer to "Netflix and chill" instead of going to the movie theatre, under 25-year-olds make up half of  cinema ticket buyers.

How many of these are likely to have heard of, watched and gotten so pumped up about a 70s TV show to dole out some 10 dollars to catch it in the theatre?

I am going to go out on a limb and say very few of them. It is not the familiarity of the characters and the concept of the movie that got it green-lighted. It was a lack of imagination to produce anything worthwhile for the few out there that demand at least some originality.

The plot revolves around a group of people who visit an island to have their fantasies come true. They are not told what this exactly means - they are just given a one-page questionnaire to answer - or how this will pan out.

It is pretty clear right away that the island has mystical powers that can make the fantasies of people come true as long as they stay there. The concept is similar to Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris, a profoundly philosophical movie about a planet that recreates loved ones from the memories of others.

But Fantasy Island is not Solaris. While the latter was far more concerned with the philosophical consequences of a certain supernatural occurence, the former is about that supernatural occurence.

Fantasy Island does try to get us interested in the mystery at the heart of the movie. But the story-telling is so clichéd and so contrived, by the time it gets around to the mystery, we had already dozed off.

The movie, of course, never had a chance of being good. It was directed by Jeff Wadlow, who is usually invited aboard projects once studios have lost interest in a movie but produce it anyway on the off chance that it would recover the cost it had already consumed.

His filmography includes the likes of Non-Stop, Kick-Ass 2 and the utterly dreadful Kevin James-starring True Memoirs of an International Assassin. Wadlow cannot be accused of creating imaginative themes and clever plotting or developing characters with complex emotions and worldviews. Fantasy Island, which required careful execution to work, was doomed to fail from the beginning.

The movie is one in a long line of successful horror movies that have been produced by Blumhouse Productions. From Paranormal Activity to Insidious and Sinister, it has won the interest of horror fans with modern offerings. The likes of Get Out and Split has also won it acclaim.

The quality of its productions greatly vary, but Fantasy Island is likely to be one of its worst output. The entire film belonged in the cold and dark cutting rooms of the studio, as did The Purge, Truth or Dare (another Wadlow directorial effort) and the entire Paranormal Activity franchise.

PUBLISHED ON Feb 29,2020 [ VOL 20 , NO 1035]

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