Fear Island (2009)

Fear Island is incredibly dumb. Not in a Wayans Brothers “Not Another Movie” dumb and not in a Return of the Killer Tomatoes knowingly dumb, but in an accidental way that is both embarrassing and frustrating. It is poorly thought out, shoddily acted and incredibly unsubtle. Fear Island is very bad.

It begins with an arrest. Jenna (Haylie Duff) is found on an island, bloody knife in hand, and is immediately thrown into jail. Six “kids” are dead, but she doesn’t remember what happened. Or even who she is. Already blessed with the knowledge of who’s dead and who’s alive, the audience is plunged into an amnesiac’s lengthy flashback that only asks the question “why?” but forgets to realise we don’t care.

Six friends and a stranger visit a cabin on a remote island for a weekend of drunken debauchery and witless bantering. When they arrive they find a creepy toy monkey rotating on the stairs, the word Revenge etched into it. Does anyone question it? No. Not at all. And so begins the utter idiocy.

Jenna’s amnesia rather conveniently returns in chronological order, and treats us and the police investigation team to some endlessly dull scenes of her less-than-enamouring friends partying and talking crap. The dialogue is sub-standard Hollyoaks at it’s very worst, and laughably poor. Luckily the scenes set in the present are marginally better, with Martin Cummings (as Detective Armoury) practically saving the film from sinking into a chasm of ineptitude and bad acting.

Another problem is the returning memories themselves. In an endlessly moronic move, half of Jenna’s flashbacks cannot possibly have been witnessed by her, since she wasn’t there when they happened. Unless she’s an omnipotent Godlike figure there’s literally no way she could be replaying the story as we see it. It’s year-eleven grade idiocy that a half-brained monkfish would’ve realised made no sense.

Yet this is not an anomaly, as all of Fear Island is irritatingly idiotic. Apart from the dirty clichés of man-traps and hot-tub boilings, the characters always split up for absolutely no discernable reason, one assassination technique involves hiding a rattlesnake in a cupboard and at one point they wonder if a dead man – bloodied and hanging by his feet from a tree – has killed himself! It’s a dumb that’s so dumb it’s on a new scale of dumb; phenome-dumb.

During one of the worst police investigations ever, as Jenna gradually reveals what happened on the island, we start to question the validity of her story. Especially when she quotes the Lords Prayer and reveals her more fractured side. Is she lying? Is she mad? Can there be any other conclusion? It’s the only piece of intrigue in an otherwise very pedestrian slasher-in-the-woods film, but you honestly do not care what the result is. It drags itself towards a conclusion that is about as surprising as discovering water in the ocean.

Fear Island at least looks beautiful, and is shot wonderfully throughout – but this is no surprise considering director Michael Storey has worked as a cinematographer on nearly 50 features and television programs. Sadly for Fear Island, Storey’s direction is perfunctory and unimaginative, and does nothing to improve upon Jeff Martel’s diabolical script. Well, at least Fear Island looks nice…

Fear Island is incredibly poor. It’s like a school child watched A Perfect Getaway and The Usual Suspects and decided to combine them. Badly. There is barely a spark of originality about it. Stupid, dumb, idiotic, charmless and pointless – this may have a decent concept buried under a giant mound of excreta, but it’s not worth diving in to find it. A dire piece of work.

Rating: ★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

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