New supernatural horror film from writer/director Taylor Chien, The Resort, checks in somewhere between Fantasy Island and The Shining. For her birthday, aspiring author Lex (Bianca Haase) is surprised with a trip to Hawaii from her (very generous) group of friends. The purpose of this getaway is to explore an abandoned island resort which is supposedly haunted by a collection of evil spirits including the infamous and much feared half-faced girl. This now deserted hotel is the subject of the book that Lex is planning to write, so despite its supernatural reputation she can’t resist the chance to explore it, but maybe she should have taken more heed of the do not disturb signs.
Any hopes of originality from this new horror film are immediately dashed as The Resort is about as clichéd as they come, earning this criticism almost instantly. The film opens with a security guard wandering about the hotel grounds shining a torch and investigating strange noises. The very first words out of his mouth are “Hello. Is there anyone down here?” *Insert eye roll here* Starting the film with possibly the most tired horror trope of them all is a telling indication of what is to come throughout, as sadly The Resort fails to bring any originality, fun or fresh ideas to the screen.
A further example of this is the casting and characterisation which are both as lazy as possible. Four attractive, white actors portray the stereotypical group of horror characters that make up the central group of friends. This group consists of the hunk, the sex pest, the dumb blonde and the final girl. No attempts have been made to present interesting or diverse characters here. However, despite these uninspired casting decisions the performances aren’t terrible, and this young cast do well to make the film at least watchable. Michael Vlamis as Sam, a Michael Bay enthusiast who has a fondness for getting naked and sharing crude sex stories stands out the most. Although, this could be simply down to the fact that he’s the loudest of the bunch and therefore naturally draws the most attention. The rest of the characters are barely explored and whilst deep characters aren’t always what’s wanted or needed from a supernatural slasher like this, when the characters are such basic cookie-cutter horror stereotypes, some depth would most definitely improve their quality.
It isn’t just the characters that are poorly written though, as the story is painfully by the numbers too. At least The Resort wastes no time in telling it though, as the group touches down on the island within fifteen minutes of the film starting. However, once the group arrives, there’s little in the way of horror to keep viewers interested or to deliver on the chilling set up that’s given to the island resort in the first act.
In addition to this, the score for the film fails to create the right kind of atmosphere to encourage tension or fear as it has much more of a synthy sci-fi vibe to it, proving more mysterious than sinister. It makes the film feel like an episode of Stranger Things rather than a feature-length horror; although there’s nothing wrong with it musically, it just doesn’t quite fit with the tone or visuals of the film.
These aforementioned visuals are probably the best thing about the film, thanks to its impressive location; having this deserted hotel to base its story in makes the film all the more convincing, however its full potential is never utilised as a result of its uneventful mid-section. So whilst the film may look the part thanks to its location shoot, often the sound quality just can’t match up to the same standard, therefore creating an uneven experience for the senses. This is especially evident when there is background noise or more than one conversation going on at once; the dialogue is not captured well. This more technical failure of the filmmaking really holds The Resort back from obtaining a natural narrative flow. Furthermore, the only jumpy element to this horror is the poor editing, which also contributes to the disjointed technical aspects of the film as a result of the numerous jarring scene transitions.
When the film eventually nears its climax, it’s a shame that nothing’s really happened until this third act and even then it’s only in the last fifteen minutes where it really gets going. It’s here where audiences are treated to the best The Resort has to offer and the creative team behind the film get to showcase the pinnacle of their talents. Better late than never, the film finally decides to boast some entertaining horror sequences, helped by the use of practical effects, some of which are better than others. The film almost redeems itself, with a couple of these moments achieving more atmosphere and intensity than the whole film before it. However, even within this more engaging finale, missteps are taken and stop it from ending on a high, ultimately cheapening what it accomplishes with a poor attempt at an obvious twist that is teased from the get go.
So although The Resort looks the part, thanks to its impressive location, has an enthusiastic cast and provides a couple of promising moments of horror, it’s simply plagued with too many issues and an overwhelming feeling of unoriginality. Evidently this resort is deserted for a reason and there’s more life in the undead spirits which haunt it than in the film itself. Even without the comparisons to similar, yet superior horror outings such as Blumhouse’s Fantasy Island, which itself is not good, The Resort still remains a disappointing end result for a director who clearly has promise. However, this project was simply lacking some much needed creative flair. So after a thankfully short stay and when the suitcases are repacked and the free shampoo has been pocketed, it can be said with much confidence that The Resort simply isn’t a cinematic location that’s worth making a reservation for.
THE RESORT WILL BE RELEASING ON DIGITAL AND ON DEMAND FROM 30th APRIL 2021