[Review] ‘The Resort’ never takes a vacation from clichés and ineffective scares

Horror has met its quota when it comes to characters exploring a myth and then perishing because of their curiosity, but Taylor Chien‘s The Resort thinks there’s still room for one more.

The Resort begins with Lex (Bianca Haase) being surprised with a trip to Hawaii for her birthday. She’s not excited about hitting the waves or soaking up the sun, though. No, Lex is a paranormal enthusiast and wants to visit a haunted resort so she can find the Half-Faced Girl who supposedly haunts the area. Once they land in Hawaii, though, the characters have to take a helicopter to reach the resort on the nearby Kilahuna Island; they’re then warned to not be late or they’ll miss the only ferry back home.

Surprise, surprise; they never make it to the boat.

It would appear this is another movie made during the pandemic; the characters roam a virtually empty island and hotel. Upon closer inspection, the film was finished around 2018 and has been shelved since then. Although this is never a good sign, it’s not a death sentence, either. The plot is nothing too novel, but movies with less resources and creativity have managed to entertain. Regretfully, this isn’t the case for The Resort.

The clunky exposition in the beginning is accompanied by unflattering cinematography. Lex and her friends sit around in a poorly framed apartment, talking to one another like they’ve never even met before. It’s clumsily executed, but as soon as they all get to Hawaii, the visuals substantially improve. The scenic surroundings remove the initial drabness and give this one some much-needed color. That is, until we’re left with the characters doing absolutely nothing contributive to the plot before the forty-minute marker.

En route to the resort, Lex and her pals are given little to work with other than paper-thin discourse about whether or not ghosts are real and an Instagram-ready photoshoot at a nearby waterfall. While the protagonist is ostensibly Lex — a concurrent subplot involves a series of infrequent flashforwards where her character is in a hospital with a detective, explaining what happened to her friends — so much attention is given to Michael Vlamis‘s Sam. You start to think this is his movie, and it might as well be. The actor’s charisma offsets his character’s detestability, thus making Sam the only role here with any distinct personality.

I wince not just because it’s bad — for all intents and purposes, it is very bad

The Resort’s pace picks up with the paranormal activity; a character gets trapped in a truck before plummeting to their death off a hotel ledge, and another is possessed. The visceral special effects are admittedly impressive, yet they’re not enough to save the movie as a whole. The unfortunate truth is, horror has no vacancy for something so uninspired and tedious. As cyclical as the genre is, there should be a modicum of invention even when a film heavily borrows tropes and capitalizes on trends. I see none of that here and it’s disappointing to have to say that.

When experiencing a movie like this, I wince not just because it’s bad — for all intents and purposes, it is very bad — but because it leaves me feeling nothing and that is not the sentiment you want your audience to have after watching. A terrible movie elicits some emotions, whereas The Resort only leaves me cold and ready to go home.

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