Anyone who has fantasized about a feature-film remake of the 1980s TV show “Fantasy Island” will likely be disappointed by director Jeff Wadlow’s attempt. The movie’s beginning and end aim for some amusing allusions to the source material, in which people arrive by plane to a mysterious island where they can live out their fantasies, but the references are a stretch and will be meaningless to those unfamiliar with the show.
Wadlow (Truth or Dare) tries to reimagine Fantasy Island as a horror film, yet the best he can come up with is a series of derivative scenes from better movies, including elaborate torture scenarios, mindless slashers, zombies with oozing eyes and doppelgängers lurking nearby.
The premise of having fantasies fulfilled without considering the consequences brings a sense of dread to the story, yet any payoff gets lost amid repeated attempts to surprise the audience with a twist, which only creates more absurdity.
However, Michael Peña’s performance as Mr. Roarke, the head of Fantasy Island, might help this movie become a cult hit. He’s miscast in a role that requires dignity and authority, and his attempt to mimic Ricardo Montalban’s accent as the original Mr. Roarke will fuel many future drinking games: Take a shot every time Peña says “FAHN-tisy.” Viewers won’t make it to the end of the movie — which is the best fantasy Roarke could provide.