THE RESORT movie poster | ©2021 Vertical Entertainment

THE RESORT movie poster | ©2021 Vertical Entertainment

Rating: Not Rated
Stars: Bianca Haase, Brock O’Hurn, Michael Vlamis, Michelle Randolph, Dave Sheridan
Writer: Taylor Chien
Director: Taylor Chien
Distributor: Vertical Entertainment
Release Date: April 30, 2021

THE RESORT has a good idea and great locations. It aspires to be THE SHINING in Hawaii. Writer/director Taylor Chien has access to a vast, creepy abandoned hotel, not to mention plenty of gorgeous Maui scenery. Unfortunately, this is not put to the best possible use.

At the outset, two security guards are patrolling an empty service hallway when something attacks them.

Then we flash back and meet birthday celebrant Lex (Bianca Haase), whose boyfriend Chris (Brock O’Hurn) and pals Bree (Michelle Randolph) and Sam (Michael Vlamis) have arranged a surprise party. An even bigger surprise is that they’re treating her (and themselves) to a trip to Hawaii.

Lex is working on a book about a supposedly haunted resort on a small island. Although it is closed off to tourists, the group decide they’re going to help Lex with her research and visit the site.

Flash forward, and Lex is in a hospital bed, being interviewed by a detective (Dave Sheridan). Lex is devastated, telling the detective that her friends are dead.

Lex then narrates their trip to the island. The group first views a handy YouTube video that relates the history of the resort on Kilahuna Island. Apparently, some tourists maimed and murdered a local girl. The ghost was so murderous and destructive that it was impossible to keep the resort open. Room 306 is reputed to be especially dangerous.

Our team charter a helicopter from Maui to Kilahuna. There are still locals on the island, but they won’t go anywhere near the resort, and won’t guide visitors, either. Still, despite being dropped off by the pilot far from their destination, the group trek through deep grass, take a break to frolic in a waterfall’s pool, and generally enjoy themselves.

Which is fine, except: 1) Nobody seems to have a compass (it’s the middle of nowhere, so cell phones and GPS don’t work). 2: Everybody is hiking through uninhabited wilderness in shorts and flip-flops. Never mind ghosts, have these people heard of snakes or spiders? 3. Lex soberly tells the detective that she felt the island was warning them. We don’t need visions or spooky voices, but something out of the ordinary would be helpful in accompanying this observation. 4.) For non-outdoorsy types who need to catch a boat at exactly 6 PM in order not to have to stay on the island overnight, and who don’t know quite where the dock is, they’re all awfully cavalier with their time.

At last, we reach the resort. It does indeed look very ominous. We ultimately get some terrific makeup effects, and some trippy scares. Unfortunately, THE RESORT is 75 minutes long, and it is 53 minutes in before much of anything starts happening in horror terms.

It might be different if the first 53 minutes were filled with material that set up the scares better. We do get the various characters’ opinions on the likelihood of whether or not ghosts exist, but this seems more time-filler than prelude.

The film references not only THE SHINING, but also THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT and THE GRUDGE. The borrowed moments work well enough, but THE RESORT doesn’t know how to effectively recreate those other movies’ slow burns.

The actors are good, and the last twenty minutes of THE RESORT are worth watching. It just requires patience and/or a real love the Hawaiian great outdoors to get there.

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