It’s hard to tell if The Resort was a small horror movie originally intended for a quiet theatrical release before the summer season kick-off. Like everything else in the world, COVID-19 has thrown movie release schedules into disarray. Thought its story sounds derivative, that hasn’t stopped studios from dropping uninspired horror late in April before (see Truth or Dare). And the gorgeous Hawaii locale certainly belongs on the big screen. Regardless critics seem pretty unimpressed with this destination horror movie.
For Lex’s birthday, her boyfriend and friends take the aspiring writer to an abandoned resort off the coast of Hawaii. Outside of hired security, no one has set foot in the resort since its forced closure. Somewhere in its halls – and especially in Room 306 – a local legend, ‘The Half-Faced Girl’, waits in the dark. Despite warnings, Lex and her friends arrive at The Resort and quickly discover that the local legend may be true.
The Resort is Less Scary Than Room Service
There’s slow burn, and then there’s dead space. Yes, The Resort falls into latter. Maybe writer and director Taylor Chien eventually realized he had a lack of scares in store for audiences so he kept his main characters out of the titular resort as long as possible. For some inexplicable reason, it takes a good 45 minutes or so for the characters to end up in the abandoned tourist site. Instead of dropping onto the island and ratcheting up scares, The Resort forces us to spend time with its bland characters. Chien even treats us to an island waterfall montage to remind us how beautiful his lead actors are. What Chien doesn’t do is use those stretches of time to spin an effective ghost story. That is, The Resort’s ‘Half-Faced Girl’ may be the most uninspired horror villain in recent memory. In place of these ingredients, Chien uses unnecessary non-linear storytelling that only serves to further derail the movie.
…The Resort’s ‘Half-Faced Girl’ may be the most uninspired horror villain in recent memory.
It’s late into the movie once the scares start and the pace doesn’t so much pick up as it tries to catch up. On the plus side, The Resort’s choppy editing an hurried final sprint doesn’t leave much time to question the movie’s convoluted mythology. Unfortunately, it leaves no time for atmosphere or an effective staging of scares. In a surprising deviation from most of the movie, The Resort turns to last-minute gore and some neon-drenched strangeness that calls back to better movies like Mandy. Of course, it feels more like a last gasp than good movie-making.
The Resort’s Uninspired Guest List Goes with the Decor
Most of The Resort’s budget clearly went to its Hawaii location. Amongst its small cast of unknown actors, the performances range from wooden to borderline obnoxious. Our four main protagonists all look like they answered casting calls sent out to social media influencers. Yet despite well-manicured manbuns and perfect makeup, none these actors register real human emotions let alone any chemistry. At no point will you be convinced these people are friends. Bianca Haase and Brock O’Hurn, an onscreen couple, never have any physical contact with one another. And The Resort’s ‘detective’ is just woefully miscast. Kudos to Michael Vlamis who plays one of the most annoying characters in recent horror movie history.
… none of The Resort’s character defined beyond flimsy outlines. No on here feels like an actual person.
But even skilled thespians would have struggled with Chien’s screenplay. If the The Resort’s haunted mythology feels half-baked, at least it shows some effort put into it. Comparatively, none of The Resort’s characters are defined beyond flimsy outlines. No one here feels like an actual person. Like any bad horror movie, characters make poor decisions out of necessity to the story. Both the characters and the dialogue are consistent with the movie’s haphazard approach to everything.
The Resort Will Make You Miss Fantasy Island
Even at a mere one hour and 15 minutes, The Resort feels long and threadbare. Whether it’s the lazy ‘Half-Faced Girl’ mythology or the lackadaisical pacing or poor staging of scares, The Resort offers little for horror fans. In its closing moments, Chien surprises with some unexpected gore. Moreover, Chien teases what might have been with neon-drenched weirdness. But it’s too little too late. A few flickers of inspired craziness can’t make up for the ineptitude that proceeded it. Now at least Fantasy Island isn’t the worst island resort horror movie.