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Fantasy Island review: Reboot feels like a Scooby Doo episode gone wrong

Spoiler-free: Desires may turn dark for guests on Fantasy Island, but the confusing plot and silly characters make this movie feel more like a pointless parody.

- 02:24

The guests on Fantasy Island can try to escape the island, but they'll never escape this movie.

Blumhouse Productions

Dreams come true as if by magic at a mysterious island resort, thanks to its charming host Mr. Roarke. But in this Fantasy Island remake, those dreams come with deadly strings attached.

The Fantasy Island movie loosely based on the hit TV series that aired from 1978 to 1984. In the original series, guests asked for elaborate dreams -- like a love affair with a vampire. Each episode started off innocently enough but ended with a twist that made the guests rethink what really made them happy.

Blumhouse Productions, best known for horror hits like Paranormal Activity and Get Out, has reimagined Fantasy Island, but with a bloodier take on "be careful what you wish for."  Unfortunately, the confusing plot and silly characters make this reimagining feel more like a pointless parody.

The movie is directed by Jeff Wadlow (Truth or Dare), and features an impressive cast that includes Michael Pena (Ant-Man and the Wasp), Maggie Q (Divergent), Lucy Hale (Truth or Dare), and Michael Rooker (Guardians of the Galaxy).

Much like the campy TV show, these guests fit every imaginable character trope -- career woman who regrets not having a family; promiscuous girl who wants revenge on a childhood bully; two bros who want the ultimate hedonistic party; and a wannabe soldier who wants to see some action. 

Each fantasy that takes place on the island feels real in every way -- the other people in the fantasy aren't holograms or Westworld-like robots, but real people. But once these fantasies are in full swing, guests begin to find out they might be in danger. 


Austin Stowell, Michael Pena and Lucy Hale relax before danger arises in the horror remake of Fantasy Island.

Blumhouse Productions

Mr. Roarke, played by Michael Pena in the signature all-white suit, is all smiles in the beginning, but his constant reminders that "the fantasy must play out to its logical conclusion" hints at trouble ahead. 

And that's roughly where the movie stops making sense. Once the guests realize their fantasies are more like nightmares, they try to warn each other. But instead of terror and tension, the movie turns into a parody of horror tropes. 

The film tries too hard to make the audience scream with jump scares and gory deaths, and loses impact due to an overcomplicated plot, one-dimensional characters, and a needless onslaught of pop culture references.

There are evil henchmen, zombie-like killers, a mysterious stranger warning guests of danger, an all-powerful mystical crystal, deadly snakes, creepy caves and the list keeps growing. The last half of the film feels more like a bad Scooby-Doo episode mixed with the plots of SawLostThe HangoverSliding DoorsI Know What You Did Last Summer and Tropic Thunder.

No amount of one-liner quips about YelpRedditTupac hologramCall of Duty, and Scarface can save this film.

Originally published Feb. 14.