SPOILERS FOR A MOVIE STILL IN THEATERS
GONNA SPOIL THE ENDING SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO SEE THIS YOURSELF, YOU’RE WELCOME
There is criminal activity going on in my local theaters this year and I’m getting fed up with it. It started with Color Out of Space, which got a one day screening all over my city and then disappeared except for a single showing at night in Seattle. Next was The Lodge, which never even reached anywhere close to me. I guess they technically count as “indie movies,” but they were horror movies I was excited to see and they disappeared before I got a chance!
But on the other hand, bad horror movies like The Turning and Fantasy Island got wide releases. A crime, I say!
I didn’t like this movie, in part because of the messy ending. So here comes all the spoilers: group of people show up on the island, they get their fantasies, but they all turn bad. Like, murderously bad. Then it turns out everything is actually the assistant’s fantasy! She wants revenge for her dead son, since all the guests were around at the time but didn’t help. Wait, no, that’s a psych out, it’s actually Ms. Lucy Hale’s revenge fantasy because she was about to go on a date with the guy, but he died before they could and she swore vengeance. That’s right, she never even had a first date with this guy, but it’s still enough for her to want everyone dead. It’s not a very good story.
There were a couple hints early on about her and the dead guy (mostly a photo of him on her phone with no explanation), but the bulk of the twist happened right at the end, feeling like one of those Scooby-Doo episodes where after they unmask the “ghost” Velma explains all the things the audience never noticed. That’s not to say that the execution was awful, but the movie never really presented itself as a mystery; wondering “whose revenge fantasy is it?” so late in the movie means a lot of the early hints are going to go unnoticed. It doesn’t help that Hale’s character acted innocent even in moments where only the audience could see her. That’s just the movie tricking us into thinking it’s not her, and that’s lame.
I take extra issue with the so-called “happy ending,” though. A few of the guests survive and escape, while Brax/Tattoo (Mr. Jimmy O Yang) stays behind so that his fantasy of his recently killed brother being alive again can come true permanently. But… no? We know the fantasy of Mr. Roarke (Michael Peña) was that his dead wife was alive again, but she was forever deathly ill, dying over and over. His fantasy became a nightmare, which is the theme of the movie, before it turns out everything is awful because it’s someone else’s revenge fantasy. But if Roarke living forever on the island can’t get a true happy ending, why are we to assume that nothing awful will happen to Brax’s brother? If it’s going to work because it’s a selfless fantasy, that’d be one thing… but I just made that concept up; the movie never touches anything close to it. It’s lazy writing and highlights what a disjointed mess this movie is.
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