Every once in a while there comes a film from far off lands which provides motivation to the local filmmakers for all the wrong reasons. With the Bollywood ban in play for the past year – and counting – that particular burden has fallen almost entirely on Hollywood.
Given that the market for a diverse array of flicks from Hollywood – something we have been talking up in this space for the past couple of months – is still nascent, for such unintended motivation to fall in Pakistan requires many unlikely pieces to fall into place, given the fact that only the top-drawer releases are likely to be screened in the country.
Fantasy Island, however, has exquisitely broken those shackles and given Pakistani filmmakers hope that even with a truly bizarre script and perhaps even sloppier execution, you can still find high-profile distributors and those willing to splurge millions of dollars.
Valentine’s Day and horror have always had a sardonically symbiotic relationship in Hollywood, with many of the day’s highlights gradually merging into the genre’s clichés – not to mention the fact that the occasion has formed the basis of many an illustrious flick.
A couple of weeks ago, we had suggested in this space while discussing The Gentlemen, why that particular film wasn’t exactly best suited for February 14. One would have been tempted to suggest the same in this case as well – in hindsight of course – had the above mentioned clichés, and the fact that this film was actually designed to release on Valentine’s Day, not come into play.
Based on the 1970s-80s ABC television series Fantasy Island – a ‘horror reimagining’ if you will – the film could easily be mistaken for a satire on the show, which of course had its spoof-worthy moments. In fact, it is those very moments which Fantasy Island, the film, extrapolates into the fantasy realm, in turn propelling it to a point where any inkling of irony – even of the unintentional kind – long evaporates.
And to think all of this emanates from what in all honesty was a truly fantastic premise, centered around the idea of an island “where anything and everything is imaginable”. What results is, without a shadow of a doubt, an unfantastic blend of botched up screenplay, where the writers clearly failed to follow the rulebook that they had set for the contestants.
As you would expect, the storyline hinges on a group of guests who receive an invitation to Fantasy Island. Invited by one Mr Raoke (Michael Pena) the guests can’t believe their luck initially, with their temptations skyrocketing after being told that they could literally wish for any of their fantasies to come true here.
As you would notice, the story banks on the tried, tested and done-to-death horror premise of the cast being lured into a tempting scenario, with the Valentine’s Day setting coupled with the ‘fantasy’ element ensuring that things get, typically, wild and naughty. This leads on to yet another horror cliché being played out in the most literal of manners here: be careful what you wish for.
The guest list includes Gwen (Maggie Q), Melanie (Lucy Hale), Sonja (Portia Doubleday), Bradley (Ryan Hansen), Brax (Jimmy O Yang) and Patrick (Austin Stowell), with the characters full of inconsistencies that the actors just can’t be faulted for not being able to overcome. What they do get on point is the fact that they’re undoubtedly good looking which, again, is a clichéd requirement of both the show that they’re playing on and the genre they’re toying with.
Needless to say, pretty much any film being screened in a local multiplex would be better than Fantasy Island. In fact, download an episode or two of the original show, and make better use of your weekend.
Needless to say, pretty much any film being screened in a local multiplex would be better than Fantasy Island