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We Didn’t Ask For It But a ‘Fantasy Island’ Movie is On the Horizon

Jeff Wadlow and Blumhouse promise to grant our fantasies with their latest reboot.
Fantasy Island
By  · Published on August 1st, 2018

 Jeff Wadlow and Blumhouse promise to grant our fantasies with their latest reboot.

We’re trying to be better film fans. The kneejerk reaction is to balk at remakes. They are cheap ploys designed to grab our dollars. Resist. On the other hand, if the talent is there, why should we outright dismiss the idea of revisiting tried-and-true concepts. Insert obligatory praise of John Carpenter’s The Thing and David Cronenberg’s The Fly.

Blumhouse has quickly become a studio we can trust. By embracing micro-budgets, their genre films have a tendency to push boundaries a little bit further than others, get a little darker, and be a little weirder. Get Out, Split, Hush. These films have risen in the ranks as recent all-time favorites. Not to mention our absurd anticipation surrounding upcoming projects like Halloween and Glass. Not every Blumhouse production is a winner, but when they’re cranking out so many concepts at such a low cost, they can afford a stinker or two.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Blumhouse has just nabbed the rights to reboot the “classic” ABC television series Fantasy Island. Huh. This might be the last property on Earth I was expecting to write about today, but I’m going to withhold the eye-roll and dig into what actually might be exciting about this prospect.

Jeff Wadlow is attached to direct. When Quentin Tarantino watched Wadlow’s Kick-Ass 2, the director labeled it one of 2013’s best films. Tarantino went so far as to call it an example of a “real auteur approach.” How do we know this? Well, it’s the first thing listed on Wadlow’s IMDB bio. Can you blame him? If QT even breathed near me, I’d mark the occasion on my headstone.

Wadlow also directed the high school fight club movie Never Back Down, which is better than you remember. The film packs the sweet underdog spirit of The Karate Kid with the discount grindhouse aesthetic of the Undisputed franchise. Blumhouse brought him on for this year’s Truth or Dare, and despite its hindrance to lame PG-13 violence, Wadlow exhibited a dark mind for grotesque body horror.

One should not have to worry too much about stretching the limits of taste with Fantasy Island. For the right price, the mysterious Mr. Roarke (originally played by Ricardo Montalbán) granted the fantasies of vacationers desperate to reinvent their lives or escape their pasts. He was assisted by Tattoo (Hervé Villechaize), an exuberant sidekick mostly remembered for his ridiculous catchphrase “Ze plane! Ze plane!” whenever new clients made their touchdown.

A remake of Fantasy Island could simply embrace the wish-fulfillment desires of the guests, delivering karmic comeuppance to the more sinister visitors and blissful rejuvenation to the cheerier contingent. Or, Fantasy Island could go full-Get Out, tackling contemporary societal questions and offering judgment upon the audience as much as its characters.

Is Wadlow the guy to do that? I’m not sure. Kick-Ass 2 cracked a few jabs upon our consumer culture and obsession with superhero brawls, but those were baked into the concept rather than underscored by its filmmaker. Surface level philosophy. Actually, that’s probably as good a bet as anything else. I’m not looking for a Fantasy Island remake to cure the horrors of the world. Maybe Mr. Roarke can spotlight some concerns, offer a few suggestions, and keep our anxieties out in the open.

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Brad Gullickson is a Weekly Columnist for Film School Rejects and Senior Curator for One Perfect Shot. When not rambling about movies here, he's rambling about comics as the co-host of Comic Book Couples Counseling. Hunt him down on Twitter: @MouthDork. (He/Him)