The Resort, 2021.
Written and Directed by Taylor Chien.
Starring Bianca Haase, Brock O’Hurn, Michael Vlamis, Michelle Randolph, Dave Sheridan, Dante Jimenez, Romualdo Castillo, and Rodney Gemberling.
Four friends head to Hawaii to investigate reports of a haunting at an abandoned resort in hopes of finding the infamous Half-Faced Girl. When they arrive, they soon learn you should be careful what you wish for.
The only thing scary about The Resort is that it’s not a debut narrative feature from writer/director Taylor Chien, as it’s hard to imagine something worse. This is a cheaply made ghost story that barely features anything haunting, leisurely taking its time for anything to happen. It’s also an absolute failure on every front of filmmaking, from the writing to be acting to the story to the editing. I will give credit where credit is due on the one halfway decent practical makeup effect towards the end, but you would have to be a masochist to even make it that far without tapping out. Keep in mind, the movie is only 70 minutes long without ending credits.
Four college-aged friends are vacationing in Hawaii for Lex’s (Bianca Haase) birthday, who is an aspiring horror novelist taking inspiration from Stephen King, also hoping to find a way to a nearby island where its titular resort has become quite famous for housing malevolent spirits. Stephen King has long been a champion for writing what you know, so Lex thinks if she visits this place and experiences something supernatural for herself, it will get the creative juices flowing for her book. The legend (mostly just an exposition dump from a random person on YouTube) tells of someone known as The Half-Faced Girl, a woman that was murdered in the nearby village that became a vengeful spirit in the afterlife. Not only is this all you need to know, but it’s literally where the plot begins and ends.
Lex’s boyfriend Chris (Brock O’Hurn, who kinda looks like Aquaman if he was into heavy metal) manages to secure passage to the now-abandoned island (aside from security, which makes absolutely zero sense why they would even be posted on an abandoned haunted island that supposedly no one gets into or out of, but whatever) from a shady looking local with a rundown helicopter. Also on this trip are on-off couple Bree and Sam (Michelle Randolph and Michael Vlamis), doubling as both the stereotypical dumb blonde obsessed with Instagram and vehicle for crude humor, none of which are actually amusing here.
It’s obvious that The Resort practically has no budget even by standards of independent horror because 45 minutes of the movie (that’s basically two-thirds, keep in mind) follow these characters around the island doing a variety of things that don’t involve anything spooky whatsoever. They decide to go swimming (complete with awkward lecherous shots of everyone, especially the women) and spiritual conversations lacking any insight. More than anything, it’s time-killing, just so The Resort can technically meet the required length of a feature film.
Spliced in between the camaraderie and attempts at scares are scenes revealing that Lex has escaped whatever nightmare awaits, giving her story to a detective inside of a local hospital. There is a twist here, and quite frankly it’s just sad. Someone would have to be a complete amateur at watching horror movies (or movies in general) to not see what’s going on with this aspect, whereas anyone that has ever seen a movie before in their life will most likely run away five minutes into The Resort. Even at the simplest of technical levels, the film fails, often showing characters in conversation before obliterating any semblance of continuity showing them in completely different positions in the next shot. The only saving grace is that this is a short stay should your curiosity get the best of you.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com