BLUMHOUSE'S FANTASY ISLAND
About The Film
We all have our fantasies. Maybe we picture ourselves on a beautiful tropical
where anything is possible. Or to live out a life we never quite got the chance
experience. Or to make something right that we regret from our past. Or maybe
something darker... something we'd never act out in real life but can only imagine
Be careful what you wish for. In Blumhouse's Fantasy Island, any fantasy
true... but fantasies come with a price.
At the center of the movie is the enigmatic Mr. Roarke, the white-suited
steward of an
island where fantasies come to life. He has welcomed the island's guests, all
distinct fantasies, to come to the island where they will live out their dreams,
with the promise and the warning: the results may not be what was intended.
"It's the ultimate wish-fulfillment movie," says producer Jason Blum, whose
label has brought horror fans some of the top movies in the genre. "The idea of
a magical place where all of your fantasies come true - and things go very wrong
that's very ripe for a thriller."
For Blum, the movie fits squarely into the Blumhouse oeuvre. "The reason this
Blumhouse film is that we try to focus on character and drama and story -
scary is organic to the storytelling and to the dramatic arcs of the characters.
go to see Blumhouse's Fantasy Island, they're going to see this situation that -
for the island where wishes come true - feels very grounded, it feels very real.
because of that, it feels much scarier."
The project originated as producer Marc Toberoff obtained the film rights
Levitt, the creator of the iconic television series, setting up a potential
Columbia with the pitch "be careful what you wish for." Later,
Jeff Wadlow, who had helmed Blumhouse's hit Truth or Dare, indicated to Blum
had an idea for a supernatural thriller inspired by 'Fantasy Island.' "Jeff's
really exciting to me," says Blum. "I love working with existing IP and
reinventing it, and
there seemed like a great opportunity with this film to do just that."
No wonder that it seemed like a great idea. The original television series,
created by Gene Levitt and starred Ricardo Montalban as Mr. Roarke, ran for
seasons and became iconic, entering the culture to such a degree that even
who haven't seen the show have a sense of it. So Blum was a huge believer in
Wadlow's idea - and if you're going to do a project inspired by "Fantasy
Island," why not
see if you can actually work with the real deal? The producer approached the
rightsholder, Sony Pictures, to see what was possible. "A month after I
mentioned it to
him, Jason called me up and said, 'So you like "Fantasy Island?"' 'Well, yeah,
doesn't.' And he asked, 'You wanna make a movie version of it?' 'Is that
'Yeah, I got the rights.' So I responded, "Hell, yeah!" And we were off to
Wadlow says that the idea came naturally to him because the themes were always
present in the material. "I loved the dark magical realism of the original
show," he says.
"It dealt with real emotions and real characters, but manifested them in a
that always had a little bit of an edge, a little bit of bite. They always
seemed to embrace
the notion of wish fulfillment at a terrible price and presented it in a unique
For Wadlow, the fact that younger audiences might not be so familiar with the
show was part of its appeal. "To me, that's exactly the kind of IP that we
remaking," he says. "If you have a great piece of IP that isn't as present in
consciousness as it used to be, that's the moment to reintroduce it and to spin
it with a
new take on it, so that you're both engaging the fans that do remember it but
offering it up to a whole new generation that might not be familiar with it."
As Wadlow and his writing partners, Chris Roach and Jillian Jacobs, began to
what they wanted the movie to be, the first step (natch) was to start
fantasizing. "One of
the first things we did was just to list the kind of fantasies you would expect
- sure, we
had the deep, emotional ones, but we also had the fun, superficial fantasies.
kept in mind that the fantasies were going to be realized, but they were never
come to fruition exactly the way that you expected. In fact, we made a point of
the guests and the audience that up front - so we're not trying to trick anybody
It was also important to Wadlow to offer several nods to the original - Mr.
white suit a good example - but also structural points. "The film begins with a
arriving. I think that's really important," he says. "During development, it was
that maybe we should meet the guests at home, before they leave, and I said,
first time we see them is when they get off the plane, just like the show.'
about being slavish to the original; there's a certain elegance to that - we
them when they show up on the island."
Another structural choice Wadlow transferred to the feature film is the
interplay of four
fantasies. "For the majority of our movie, we're tackling four different
different characters and showing you how the fantasies unfold in surprising
ways, as if
you are watching two episodes of the original show," he notes. "For me, it was
to make that structure work before we altered it."
Wadlow says that he hopes people have fun seeing the dark fantasies play out
as if the
audience was orchestrating the fantasies themselves. "We are presenting a
that has an awareness that we are intentionally putting the characters through a
gauntlet, an ordeal that will force them to grow and change and experience their
fantasies in a way that they weren't expecting," he says. "I hope that the
enjoys that process and with a little bit of glee, watching these people learn
ABOUT MR. ROARKE
At the center of the fantasies is Mr. Roarke, played by Michael Pena. "What I
what Michael Pena did with the role is that he feels both contemporary and
can't think of another actor who could have pulled that off," says Wadlow. "We
to keep him in the shadows at first, to make him feel mysterious and elusive,
the course of the film, pull back the layers and play with the audience's
Roarke - sometimes he's funny, sometimes he's sinister, sometimes he's curt,
sometimes he's overly formal. There's a large section of the film where the
might wonder if Roarke is malevolent, that he somehow wants bad things to happen
these people. They'll be asking, hopefully, 'Why would he want that, is he
trying to teach
them a hard lesson?' We always want to keep the audience on their toes and keep
them wondering, what is this guy's deal?"
Wadlow also notes that for much of the film, Roarke's relationship with the
opaque. "Is the island his, or is he part of the island? I think that
relationship starts to
become significant as the film progresses. We begin to question the power
the island starts to manifest as a character itself."
"Roarke is on his own journey with Fantasy Island," says Pena. "He has one
rule, which is to see each fantasy through to its natural conclusion. And he
fantasies often do not play out the way they are envisioned. Throughout, it's
not clear -
what is Roarke's relationship to the island. Who is the true orchestrator of the
Roarke or the island itself? Is Roarke the island's steward, like he claims - or
control the island? Or is he actually part of the island, a manifestation of
Pena says that he couldn't help but take some inspiration from Ricardo
legendary portrayal of Mr. Roarke. "That performance is so cemented in my
imagination, in my recollection, my memories," he says. Part of the reason for
cementation, Pena notes, is perhaps that he is an American of Mexican descent
looked to Montalban, a Mexican actor, in solidarity. "I did it just a little bit
like he did - it's
not an imitation, it's a personalization of things that he did. Number one was
with Montalban being Mexican. I had just finished doing 'Narcos,' where I spent
months in Mexico City; it's a very distinct accent that they have - a Spanish
when they speak English - that I found fascinating."
ABOUT THE FANTASIES
For Wadlow, Blumhouse's Fantasy Island represented a natural fit with the
model because right in its conceit are the core tenets of storytelling. "You
want the plot
to illuminate character, and this film has such a clean device to do that," he
says - the
characters literally get to say what they want and how they expect it to play
the expression of that fantasy reveals character. As storytellers, Chris and
Jill and I,
we've tried to be clever with how those fantasies unfold. We reveal more about
character, test the character, and force them to grow and change as they
twisted version of their fantasy."
In strong contrast to the others, Gwen Olsen, played by Maggie Q, has a
right from the beginning seems deeper and full of regret. "Gwen has a lot of
about paths not taken," says Wadlow. "I think that's something we can all relate
what if I made a different choice, what if I could change this moment. What's
about her character is that at first, she can't quite pin down what that moment
is. We all
wonder what our lives would look like if we made different choices, but if I
could just change one thing, what would it be, I think people would have to
"Gwen has these moments from her past where she feels like her life may have
her by," says Maggie Q. "She didn't grab happiness when she had the chance, and
she has a lot of regret. Her fantasy is about being able to get a do-over, to
live out her
life the other way. But the real reasons for her regret go even deeper, and
she'll have to
get to the root of it as her fantasy plays out."
"Gwen really grounds the movie - she's a character with real emotional depth,
always fun to play," the actress continues. "Right from the beginning, your
for her, and you want to see her get the life of happiness and peace that we all
- and she has to go through a hell of a journey if that's going to happen. It's
testament to the character that Jeff and Chris and Jillian created in their
Lucy Hale of "Katy Keene" and star of Wadlow's Blumhouse hit Truth or Dare,
Melanie Cole, whose fantasy at first seems straightforward. "Melanie is hiding
wounds from her past," she explains. "She comes to the island because she wants
revenge on a childhood bully."
And that fantasy comes to terrifying life when that bully - Sloane Maddison,
Portia Doubleday - is suddenly before her, with Melanie at the controls.
wanted to feel what it's like to get revenge, but then she realizes that they've
brought her nemesis to the island and what's happening is real. As soon as she
that, she tries to put a stop to it."
Perhaps the seemingly shallowest of the fantasies is JD's (Ryan Hansen), who
brought his adopted brother, Brax (Jimmy O. Yang), to Fantasy Island to share
"to have it all." They are almost immediately introduced to a wild and luxurious
surrounded by beautiful people.
"They fantasize about this baller lifestyle, 'to have it all,' but the truth
of it is that they
already had it all, which was a real connection, a real relationship, a real
that they would quite literally give up their lives for," says Wadlow.
Yang says that he was excited to join the party. "Of course, I'd heard of the
show, and in
the research for this, I watched a whole bunch of episodes and it's a very cool
Really reminds me of 'The Twilight Zone' and all the great fantasies gone awry.
we're making a really cool version of that with a Blumhouse twist - adding the
Blumhouse thriller to it."
Austin Stowell plays Patrick Sullivan, a cop who's always daydreamed of
father, who died in combat.
But like the others, Patrick soon discovers that his fantasy goes much deeper
was expecting. "It's a childlike fantasy to get to run around and play with guns
the bad guys, but that quickly evolves," says Stowell. "These are real people
with regret and having the one chance to reverse it and come to terms with the
of their past. It's a scary film, but it's also incredibly relatable."
LIVING THE FANTASY: SHOOTING IN FIJI
To shoot the island locations, the production brought the cast and crew to
Fiji in the
South Pacific, where they lived on a cruise ship for the first two weeks of
"Fiji was actually always one of my bucket-list places to visit," says Hale.
"It's one of the
most beautiful places I've ever been to. We went to waterfalls, we went hiking.
really hot, but our skin was glowing."
But if that sounds like a fantasy, the cast and crew say... be careful what you
"We'd get on a boat in the morning, hit the shore, turn the cameras on and shoot
scene," says Wadlow. "The natural beauty was awe-inspiring; you just had to film
there were a lot of modern amenities that we take for granted - like cell phone
and office supplies - that were not present, and you just had to figure it out.
ways it was old-school filmmaking. I didn't have a Technocrane, the cast didn't
trailers. It was rugged, but really gratifying. Thankfully we had an incredible
pulled together and made the movie happen. Without them, we would have never
gotten off the island with such amazing footage"
Living on a cruise ship definitely had its challenges, from seasickness to
quarters to general boredom. But it all worked out in the end, mostly due to the
camaraderie of the cast and crew.
"If you're going to be staying on a ship in the middle of an ocean, you'd
better hope that
the people you're working with are satisfying and kind," adds Stowell. "I'm
lucky to say
that we bonded almost instantly - hanging out off set, playing cards, going
lucky to have had castmates who are just such lovely people."
But maybe the biggest challenge of shooting in Fiji, Hansen says, is that
you're there to
shoot in Fiji. "We actually had to work sometimes," he laughs. "I'd just want to
and cliff jump and scuba dive all day, but I couldn't. It was unfortunate - we
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