The Resort on Kilahuna Island was abandoned two years after it opened. Lex (Bianca Haase, Terrordactyl, Hot Tub Time Machine 2) writes about the paranormal and it’s the subject of her current book. So her trio of besties, Bree (Michelle Randolph, House of the Witch), Chris (Brock O’Hurn, Boo 2! A Madea Halloween, The Real Bros of Simi Valley) and Sam (Michael Vlamis, 5 Years Apart, Spiral) can’t just stop at taking her to Hawaii for her birthday. They have arranged a trip to the island location of the allegedly haunted hotel.
The island is off-limits to visitors since the luxury resort on it was closed. Allegedly built on sacred ground it was haunted from the day it opened. The hauntings became even worse after a local girl was murdered by tourists and left to be eaten by animals. Her spirit, the Half Faced Girl, is said to roam its halls and is responsible for several disappearances.
After wandering around the empty hotel they become convinced the ghost is just a myth. Until the night, and the bodies start to fall.
Why do filmmakers think telling a story in flashback is a good idea? Especially ones that rely on suspense to be effective? Writer/director Taylor Chien (Cornered) opens The Resort with a scene at the hotel. Cuts to Lex’s friends giving her a birthday surprise. Then we’re in a hospital room with the group’s only survivor being interrogated by a police detective (Dave Sheridan, The Special, Camp Twilight). Five minutes in and we know who lives and who dies.
Even worse, Chien keeps cutting between the story and the interrogation killing any sense of pacing or mood that might manage to build up. Not that there’s much mood to kill. The Resort runs seventy-five minutes and, apart from the prologue, nothing remotely scary happens until around the fifty-minute mark.
We do get plenty of shots of the Hawaiian scenery, and a slow-motion sequence of them in the water so you can admire the girls in their bikinis and/or Jason Momoa wannabe O’Hurn who gets most of the camera’s attention, depending on your tastes.
Once they get to the resort itself the clichés start flowing. The gate just happens to be unlocked, birds, or maybe bats start swarming overhead, the full moon pops up even though it’s only 5 PM and when they try to leave the gate is gone. But that’s OK because they left a backpack in Room 306, the most haunted room in the building and have to go back for it. In the dark.
The Resort does work up a few jump scares in the last half hour but they’re nothing you haven’t seen before. The most obvious bit of recycling is the victim who returns Evil Dead style to stalk and taunt their former friends. The film’s small cast means there aren’t many deaths or effects. There is a well-done scene of a face being ripped off, but a rotating head/body is obvious CGI.
There is the obligatory twist at the end, but given what we’ve seen in the rest of the film it makes no sense. But then again, neither does much of the movie. The Resort ends with the viewer asking “What the fuck was that and why the fuck did I sit through it?” In my case, I did it so you don’t have to.
The Resort will be available in select theatres and On Demand from Vertical Entertainment on April 30th. A UK digital release is planned for the same day. You can check Vertical Entertainment’s Facebook page for more information. If you want to see a better Hawaiian ghost story, check out Green Lake. As an added bonus it’s a free watch on Vimeo.