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Rated 2.7 stars
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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Simulation Empty
by Richard Jack Smith

Even cardboard cutouts can stick to the wall and leave an impression. Not so the shadows which saunter through Fantasy Island. I blame director Jeff Wadlow who ditches the novelty behind his 2018 film Truth or Dare for something predictable and clumsy. Although Michael Pena, Lucy Hale, Maggie Q and Michael Rooker have made moderate splashes in the past, they are hampered by one-dimensional dialogue. As such, the screenplay by Jeff Wadlow, Christopher Roach and Jillian Jacobs eats away at the mystery rather than letting it bloom.

As for the story, prize winners arrive at Fantasy Island with sunny dispositions and the hope of fulfilling long held desires. For some, it's a party. Yet the fun soon morphs into a nightmare as the island boasts secret and deadly powers. 

Lacking suspense or heartfelt emotion, the film doesn't have the credentials to rise above an F grade. Bouncing between genres so often the beach ball punctures quickly with no repairman in sight. Meanwhile, I half expected Mr. Wadlow to break the fourth wall and make a guest appearance. At the very least, this might have added a little comedy to a script desperately short on laughs. 

Despite the creepy and imaginative rumblings in Bear McCreary's score, the film rarely if ever matches the composer's pressing need for drama. Thankfully, the music can be enjoyed on its own terms long after the sour taste of the movie has gone.

An excruciating exercise in ham acting, Fantasy Island cannot best the zany corn of "GARBAGE DAY!" in Silent Night, Deadly Night 2. At least a bad movie can be self aware in its pursuit of awfulness. By contrast, the stern expressions stamped all over Wadlow's picture are no joy at all.

Hardly the worst case of pandering to the lowest common denominator, Fantasy Island remains a film without purpose or message... even the simple drive to entertain. The vessel has sunk, stay at home and read a book.

Check out my video review of Bear McCreary's soundtrack:

(Released by Sony Pictures Releasing and rated "PG-13" by MPAA.)

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