Fear Island (Michael Story, 2009)
IMDB informs me that Fear Island is a made-for-TV film, though they neglect, as usual, to tell me on which station it initially aired. I’m going to take a stab at the Lifetime Movie Network; it’s got that feel to it, and it fits with a few of cinematographer Storey’s other directorial efforts (Before I Say Goodbye and We’ll Meet Again, both part of “The Mary Higgins Clark” collection—though as far as I can tell Ms. Clark had not a blessed thing to do with either). But don’t let that feel you into thinking I’m coming down on this monstrosity because I think it’s a Lifetime Original Movie—I thought it sucked while I was watching it, days before I discovered it was a made-for-TV affair. Once again, Hillary Duff’s older, somewhat less talented sister Haylie got herself a cinematic vehicle, and once again (just in case you missed it, I reviewed Backwoods, which came out the year before, a ways back, with similar results) it’s terrible. And I say this as someone who doesn’t have anything against the Duff clan in general; Raise Your Voice is one of those guilty-pleasure movies I can’t help but watch every time I stumble across it. Fear Island has no chance of getting to that level.
Plot: the usual crop of young-and-beautifuls heads off for a weekend of partying at the island retreat of (presumably, the parents of) Tyler Campbell (A History of Violence‘s Kyle Schmid) and his brothers Mark (The Shrine‘s Aaron Ashmore) and Kyle (The Grey‘s Jacob Blair). Along for the ride: Mark’s ex-girlfriend Jenna (Duff), who went on the promise that Mark would not be attending and isn’t happy he’s along for the ride, Tyler’s current girlfriend Ashley (Jessica Harmon from the 2006 remake of Black Christmas), and Megan (Scream 4‘s Lucy Hale), a mysterious stowaway on the gang’s boat who is accepted quickly by the males in the group thanks to her let’s-party attitude. The first night goes off relatively without a hitch, but weird things have been happening their entire time there, and as the sun dawns on their second day, the weird factor turns dangerous. Oh, I should mention there’s a frame story: As we open, Jenna is in the hospital, the lone survivor of the weekend. Detective Amory (Love Come Down‘s Martin Cummins) figures Jenna killed everyone else; beautiful-brilliant-stereotypical-psychologist Dr. Chalice (The Thaw‘s Anne Marie Deluise) believes Jenna’s protestations of innocence (and amnesia). The main story is told in flashback, with punctuation scenes of the detective wanting to just shoot her and the doctor trying to get to the bottom of things…
…and you’ve see it all before, at least a dozen times, always done better than this. I’ll give screenwriters Jeff Martel (A Fairy Tale Christmas) and Jack Harry (this is the only writing credit he has at IMDB as of this writing) two things: they have a propensity for coming up with good character names (you’ll get what I mean, if you are unlucky enough to see this movie, given the demise of one of the characters) and the one piece of the plot that never quite rings true is handled with much more skill than anything else here—one assumes, in fact, that was the “what if…?” that started the script being written in the first place. Had they handled the rest of it with such care, they might have gotten somewhere—though granted they probably would have needed a casting director who would have resisted casting Haylie Duff. *
Trailer. If you dare.