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The mysteries pile up in this schlock thriller faster than the bodies did in director Jeff Wadlow’s last film, Truth or Dare. But one question remains unsolved when the credits roll: who on earth is this film for?
Based on a hit US TV show from the late 70s, it’s a reimagining that turns a campy fantasy into a darker, hard-to-define mixture of The Cabin in the Woods, Westworld and Lost. It’s a strange beast, never fully committing to jumpy horror, trippy sci-fi or soapy melodrama. Instead, it makes a clumsy attempt to do it all, taking itself far too seriously but with such goofy earnestness that it almost wins you over.
The conceit remains roughly the same as in the original series: guests arrive at a tropical island expecting their fantasies to be realised, but at a price they might not be aware of. Pulling the strings is Mr Roarke (Michael Peña), a white-suited, wisdom-spewing enigma whose motivation is a mystery. His latest batch of guests have various issues to work through, from avenging a high-school bully to revisiting a failed romance. As they’re dragged further into the island’s supernatural recesses, they realise something might be afoot.
As the latest offering from Blumhouse, the hit-making production company behind Get Out, Split, Happy Death Day and The Invisible Man, you’d be forgiven for expecting more scares. But Wadlow has something bigger in mind, and there’s something to admire in his ambitious agenda that stretches a modest $7m budget to laudable lengths. Yet the scenarios he concocts with co-writers Chris Roach and Jillian Jacobs aren’t quite as juicy as he seems to think they are, and the film unravels as it heads towards its spectacularly ridiculous finale. The ramped-up silliness clashes with the script’s unearned lurches into self-serious drama, with laughable late attempts to turn the film’s chesspiece characters into figures of empathy. It’s a fantasy scenario for no one.
• Fantasy Island is released in the UK on 6 March.
Source: The Guardian
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