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Half comedy half thriller, “Fantasy Island” directed by Jeff Wadlow explores how fantasies take a twisted turn. 

Starring names such as Lucy Hale, Maggie Q, and Michael Peña, this film introduces an array of characters who have been invited to make their fantasies come true on a magical island. 

Promised that they can live out whatever fantasy they choose (as long as they leave stellar reviews on Yelp), each character chooses something different. While the fantasies begin positively, they eventually take a nightmarish turn. 

Throughout the movie, audiences can piece together why this group specifically was invited to the island. 

I appreciate that this film immediately throws you into the story, beginning with a creepy chase scene. Not only does this give an idea of the island’s dark side, but it doesn’t waste time with an extended exposition. Something I found distracting about the film is how campy and almost unbelievable the characters are. 

The humor and conversation between characters, especially in the beginning, feels cheesy and forced. The way that these conversations are used to bring up background information does not come across smoothly. This made the characters feel weak and flat for most of the movie. The man in charge of the island, Mr. Roarke, played by Peña, felt very emotionless and dull. This surprised me considering how much his character has been through, as is revealed in the movie.

While I understand needing comic relief in thriller movies, I couldn’t get a grasp on whether or not “Fantasy Island” wanted to be a comedy, or still be taken as a thriller. 

In terms of scene settings, there is a contrast between bright and dark color schemes throughout. One minute everything feels very fun and goofy, like one of the scenes at a pool party, then viewers are thrown into something much darker, like a torture scene. While I appreciate the variety and twist in each fantasy, at times it felt hard to keep up. 

One scene that I think was done well and kept me interested was the torture scene teased in the trailers, focusing on Lucy Hale and Portia Doubleday’s characters. This scene had moments of comedy mixed in well with this classic thriller type of situation.

I felt like each event that happened and the character information that was delivered felt authentic and natural, and it kept me on my toes. I think that was about as scary as the film got. 

Near the end of the movie, once things start adding up, I think the storyline got somewhat messy and rushed. This movie was balancing a lot of events and characters, so I can see how it would be a difficult balance. There is a large twist at the end of the movie which I thought was strong, as there were a lot of small pieces of evidence linked to that throughout the movie that I noticed once it was over. 

In my opinion, “Fantasy Island” would be more successful as more of a thriller than comedy. This movie was still entertaining despite some areas which were lacking.

The views expressed are those of the writer and not necessarily those of The Torch.

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