Originally written by Jack Wilhelmi for Screen Rant
Warning! Major spoilers for Fantasy Island below.
Blumhouse's Fantasy Island brings a group of young people to a deserted, tropical island where they get the opportunity to live out their greatest fantasies: but fantasies, they soon learn, are not all they appear by the film's ending.
Based on the '70s and '80s television series of the same name, Fantasy Island is equal parts horror story and cautionary tale about regret and unfulfilled desire. With a talented cast of young actors that include Lucy Hale, Maggie Q, Portia Doubleday, Jimmy O. Yang, and Michael Peña as Mr. Roarke, Fantasy Island taps into a luxurious, tropical setting that holds an air of mystery - and danger - from the first frame. Similarly to the TV series, which ran on ABC from 1977-1984, Mr. Roarke is the facilitator of the island's magic, and must connect his guests with their fantasies. However, he cautions them early: once the fantasy begins, they must see it out to its "natural conclusion".
Fantasy Island's Ending Explained
After the guests - all contest winners - arrive at the island, their fantasies start coming true. Each of them has filled out a questionnaire that allows Roarke, the island's facilitator and benefactor, to tailor a completely vivid fantasy to their own, unique desires down to the last detail. However, his ominous warning comes into play when their fantasies start to become twisted and go in unexpected and even deadly directions.
Melanie (Hale), who originally operates the guise of someone who wishes to get revenge on a childhood bully, is revealed to have orchestrated everyone's arrival on Fantasy Island. A few years prior, Melanie's crush, Nick Taylor, ended up burning alive in an apartment fire that was accidentally set by Gwen (Q), and everyone else inadvertently had a hand in his death. Melanie's justification for wanting revenge goes beyond her actions on Sloane (Doubleday), and is rooted in the fact that - due to being bullied - she was never able to grow up with confidence; Nick was the first person who made her feel like she was special and worthy, and after he "stood her up" on their first date, she started to second-guess herself only to find out that he was killed in a fire. Likely, he wouldn't have stood her up at all.
Roarke ends up saving the day and intervenes, allowing his guests to avoid their deaths. Roarke's benevolence doesn't come without a cost, though, as all the island's fantasies seem to do; a true cautionary tale at its core, there are always strings attached, and every action must have a consequence. Roarke made a deal with the island that he would stay there forever and do its bidding, so long as it kept his wife, Julia, alive. Julia ends up going through loops of health followed by sickness, and repeating this pattern; Roarke decides to let her go, and disobeys the island to save his guests, which results in him losing Julia forever.
How Do The Fantasies Of The Island's Guests Come True?
Throughout the movie, there is a constant dripping sound that leads to what appears, at first, like blood but is later revealed to be the magical, black water of the island. This water, which is housed in a water-logged cave and topped by a massive crystal, holds the secrets to the island's ability to know - instinctively - and deliver each guest's greatest fantasy. It is heavily implied that, while the magic is centralized to the island, there must be a caretaker who facilitates what the island can accomplish for people, if it is done on a larger scale. Roarke's deal with the island - his wife's eternal life in exchange for him staying there as the island's servant - is broken by the end of the film, yet he stays anyway, and even offers the same deal to Brax (Yang).
Brax's brother JD (Ryan Hansen), dies during the events of his fantasy being played out. Before the surviving guests depart the island, Brax mentions to Roarke that he wishes his brother could go home and live a happy life with the girl of his dreams, who recently broke up with him because of their inseparable sibling relationship. JD has been Brax's closest ally since their family disowned him for being gay, and Brax feels like owes his brother a debt. Roarke agrees to grant his fantasy - JD's life, restored - if he stays at the island and helps as his assistant. It is then where Brax reveals the origin of his embarrassing nickname; he got a tattoo on his chest that simply says "tattoo". Those familiar with the TV series will see this as a fun little hat tip to the show, as Roarke's assistant, played by Hervé Villechaize, was known as Tattoo.
Fantasy's Island Theme Revolves Around Regret, Trauma, And Revenge
The deeper themes of Fantasy Island revolve around unprocessed trauma, regret, and revenge. Melanie's character in particular, who was bullied, has been so unstable because of what happened to her that she is hell-bent on seeking revenge on those who wronged her in any way, even taking it to an extreme with bodily torture and death. Before she ends up in the torture chamber with her childhood bully, Melanie asks Roarke if she can film the event so she can "remember it". Then she unleashes both mental and physical torments, including posting a sex tape of her with another man to Sloane's personal Facebook page to break up her marriage. However, she saves Sloane from death so she can get an apology from her bully before trying to kill her. This goes to show an absolutely broken psyche, and speaks to the lasting effects of bullying; some scars never truly heal, and some lives are permanently effected by "harmless" name-calling and other acts committed in youth.
Another theme, which is explored more with Gwen's character, is regret. Gwen has completely lost her ability to have happiness in her life because she believed she wasn't deserving of love. This cost her a happy marriage with the man of her dreams and a child. Loss is also depicted through Patrick's storyline, who goes to the island to "play soldier" and ends up serving alongside his dad, who died a heroic death saving his men from a live grenade. Patrick loses his dad all over again, but still chooses to throw himself on a grenade to save his new acquaintances because he gained a better understanding of what heroism is. He ultimately respected his father more for doing the right thing, even if it meant growing up without him. Fantasy Island is remarkably layered, and presents an open opportunity for other sequels and spin-offs to happen, should audiences be further interested in director Jeff Wadlow's slice of paradise.
Fantasy Island is now playing at Regal.