Fantasy Island

People of a certain age will recall that the ABC show Fantasy Island was much darker when the two pilots premiered in the late ’70s as Movies of the Week. Guest stars would unearth traumatic secrets at a magical resort while host Mr. Roarke (and his diminutive sidekick Tattoo) enjoyed the cruel turns. Then the series got tethered to The Love Boat, and the supernatural aspects grew tamer as Roarke turned more angelic. That’s why it’s not too crazy to see the Blumhouse fear factory turn Fantasy Island into a horror film. The script even salutes the series’ most common plots. One character is revisiting a war, another wants to regain a lost love, and two dorks simply want to be popular. (A revenge fantasy is tagged on to provide some tame torture porn.) This initially sets up an amusingly amateurish anthology film. Sadly, the script eventually ditches the show’s old format to cram the characters together for a disastrous final act. A painfully convoluted twist throws in a dull new villain while making the audience miss the fun structure of the Final Destination franchise. The screenwriters then pad the running time with meaningless action seemingly motivated by the idea that it’s really inventive to turn the island into a threat. Maybe they didn’t bother watching the original TV movies, after all – or maybe they thought they were remaking The Love Boat. Also, it’s a shame to see Michael Rooker in a role that should’ve been John Saxon still stuck on the island.