BLUMHOUSE’S FANTASY ISLAND – Review by Susan Granger

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Like ABC’s hit TV series (1977-84), this nostalgic, big-screen adaptation begins with eager guests arriving at a luxurious resort on a mysterious tropical island. Greeted by their white-suited host, Mr. Roarke (Michael Pena), they’re anticipating that their wildest dreams will come true.

Instead of paying $50,000 for the privilege of visiting this paradise, they’re contest-winners whom Mr. Roarke cautions, “Fantasies rarely play out as you would expect.”

What businesswoman Gwen Olsen (Maggie Q), former police officer Patrick Sullivan (Austin Stowell), disturbed Melanie Cole (Lucy Hale) and high-fiving step-brothers J.D. (Ryan Hansen) and Brax (Jimmy O. Young) Weaver don’t realizes is that Jeff Wadlow’s grisly version is filled with violent, supernatural sci-fi horror.

Lurking in the background as these grisly, nightmarish episodes unfold, breaking every law or nature and reason, there’s Damon (Michael Rooker), a machete-wielding private investigator who’s determined to discover the true intentions behind Fantasy Island.

Directed by Jeff Wadow (Truth or Dare), who co-scripted with Chris Roach and Jillian Jacobs, the scenario utilizes far too many pop culture references (like Game of Thrones and Call of Duty) as it skips from one character’s campy fantasy to another’s, resulting in an inevitable lack of tension and any emotional involvement on the part of the viewer.

On TV, Ricardo Montalban was enigmatic Mr. Rourke with Herve Villechaize as his diminutive assistant Tattoo, and cinematographer Toby Oliver sets up several shots that reference the original series.

FYI: Made on a strict budget of $7 million, most of the filming took place on Fiji’s Navodo Bay. And the closing scenes set the stage for sequels.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, Blumhouse’s Fantasy Island is a feverishly fragmented 4, once again relying on sinister style over substance

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.