Blumhouse's Fantasy Island is mercenary, disposable, without shame.

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The powerful Blumhouse production company makes all kinds of horror movies following all kinds of genre traditions, from found images (Paranormal activity; Hostile) to rebirths of classic characters (David Gordon Green & # 39; s Hallowe'en sequels next Invisible Man remake) to passion projects driven by the author (Jordan Peele & # 39; s Salt; M. Night Shyamalan & # 39; s Division) Therefore, it is impressive that they have also started a craft industry of horror films that do not adhere to particular trends. Instead, these projects pursue tasty tricks like Groundhog Day like a slasher movieHappy day of death), Final destination crossed with a family board game (Truth or Dare), or an old, elegant and flared TV series reconfigured as a threatening thriller.

That last project is the new movie. Fantasy island – or, as trailers and credits boldly proclaim, Blumhouse's fantasy island. I like Truth or Dare, which was also set with the possessive Blumhouse, the new movie comes from writer and director Jeff Wadlow, star Lucy Hale and much more flash than meaning. In short, it is not very good. However, there is something desirably entertaining in your mercenary approach.

Fantasy islandThe basic premise comes directly from the television program: a group of strangers arrives on a mysterious island by plane and is received by Mr. Roarke (Michael Peña), who promises that each one will have a unique fantasy. Gwen (Maggie Q) wants to relive a key event in her life. Patrick (Austin Stowell) hopes to simulate the military career he never had. Melanie (Hale) looks for a simulation of revenge against an old high school nemesis. And JD (Ryan Hansen) brings his little brother Brax (Jimmy O. Yang) in a standard party bag directly from a beer commercial. There are unexpected connections and a general "monkey leg" dynamic, be careful what you want, like the 1978-1984 series sometimes provided. However, unlike the television program, the film is more in tune with the possibility that these fantasies can lead to someone's bloody disappearance. Indeed, almost immediately, these fantasies that began quickly take questionable turns.

"Is it the ironic twist and the hysterical screams before or after Beach Pilates?"
Photo: Christopher Moss / CTMG, Inc.

Fantasy island It's not especially scary, but scares generally don't seem to be the target of a Blumhouse horror trick. At their best, these films have the energy and shamelessness of a carnival ride, where enthusiasm means more than the atmosphere. Fantasy island steals knowingly from everywhere and sometimes skillfully incorporates his derivation into the cinema. JD and Brax go to a party with the saturated colors (and brown lines) of a 1999 McG music video. Patrick's military adventure has a palette of desaturated war movies. Melanie's torture fantasy has the whitish and dirty look of a Mountain range movie. There are different sections of the island in different genres, which eventually fail and intersect in each other's space.

With his four convergent stories, Wadlow has made a more ambitious film than Truth or Dare, but he has done it at random. As the characters separate and intersect again, the film generates idle thoughts about how Charlie Kaufman could have folded and twisted this material into something weirder or more knotty. For that matter, in terms of basic suspense, any number of Lost The episodes generate more tension among strangers on a mysterious island than this supposed horror movie. His creepy motifs include a decidedly disturbing constant dripping sound, and glimpses of a peripheral figure that resembles a Resentment-style corpse-ghost.

However, somehow, the movie doesn't seem like a total scam. More than with Truth or Dare, Wadlow tries to mix some emotion with the greatest falsehood, some of Blumhouse Happy day of death sequel did well. The only Fantasy island The character who approaches something like depth is Gwen, from Maggie Q, whose regrets manifest themselves in something heavier than bikini models, free grass or light torture. Her fantasy lacks obvious arrogance (Roarke focuses her only for that reason), and turns out to be the one that most affects the group. His story does not always coincide with the rest of the film, which is full of meaningless mythology, clumsy exposure, hasty plot twists and cheesy (albeit well delivered) jokes of Hansen and Yang.

"Oh God, look, it's something scary stolen from another movie!"
Photo: Christopher Moss / CTMG, Inc.

Gwen's secondary plot finds common ground with others, in the sense that Wadlow really likes his characters. Many horror images directed by young people seem anxious to distribute easy and huge punishments for stupidity, recklessness or selfishness of the characters. But like the Blumhouse style of 2019 Escape room, Fantasy island Show empathy for the people trapped in it. Most of them are not particularly well drawn, since the routine of the puppet master of Roarke seems particularly boring, given the number of scenes that Michael Peña has stolen happily in recent years. But there is something generous in the way Wadlow, for example, finds a recurring character for Lucy Hale: both Truth or Dare Y Fantasy island he presents her as someone whose appearance (good girl in the previous movie; good girl in this one) hides insecurities about what kind of person he might be, deep down. He turns her into a self-reflection figure, instead of a chintzy screaming queen.

That is, ultimately, the real novelty of Blumhouse's PG-13 stunt movies: even when they don't work very well, they tend to push horror in an accessible and strangely friendly direction. Horror fans are supposed to roll their eyes at this kind of softness in the genre and demand something harder, bloodier or crazier. (Wadlow has experience in applying that aesthetic to superheroes, as he presided over the self-printed evil of Kick-Ass 2.) It would certainly be difficult to blame someone for reaching the end of Fantasy island and rolling his eyes so hard that they faint. The film essentially turns a potential nightmare into a barely nervous reset pilot for a series that would really waste Michael Peña's time.

Still, is there anything really wrong with hanging semi-competent entertainment on a big hook and then selling it to boring teenagers? Fantasy island it's not as ingenious as Blumhouse's features like Happy day of death, but the company seems to recognize that horror movies to tangle and discard immediately are also part of the tradition of the genre.

Fantasy island It's in theaters on February 14, 2020.

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