In addition to the usual reviews and comments you would find on a horror movie blog, this is also a document of the wonderfully vast horror movie section of the video store I worked at in my youth.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Horror On The Tube: Harper's Island

The TV series Harper’s Island wrapped up last Saturday. Not that many people noticed however. Harper’s Island was a thirteen episode series that’s basically a murder mystery set on a small island off the coast of Seattle. At least one character shall die per episode and all would be revealed in the show’s finale. Harper’s Island seemed as doomed as its characters almost immediately. CBS dumped it in a summer slot – which is never good, as last year’s Fear Itself can attest to – and they didn’t help things by flip-flopping air dates from Thursdays to Saturdays (at least my Canadian affiliate did) on an almost weekly basis. After about the fifth episode I gave up trying to see it live and just watched the last nine or so episodes all together last weekend. The first thing that struck me about Harper’s Island was how gory it was. Maybe I just don’t watch a lot of non-cable TV, but I found a person cut-in-two, a decapitation and a shotgun blast to the face in the first few episodes to be surprising subject matter for a network show. The cast is huge. In the first few episodes, I was actually finding it tough to keep all the characters straight. They were basically only recognizable by their stereotypes at first. This fell away once I started watching the show all at once though. Harper’s Island is basically a really, really, REALLY long slasher movie, and therein lies the appeal for me. I’m a sucker for that subgenre and it made enduring the more 90210 elements of the show a lot easier. Of course, with something that is six times longer than your regular slasher, you also have the proportionate amount of red herrings, as well. I think EVERYONE on this show was a suspect at one point.

But, therein lies the game I guess. I found the two leads actresses to be quite good. I have to admit that I became somewhat attached to Abby (Elaine Cassidy, all grown up now after her appearance as the title character in the 1999 Canadian gem Felicia’s Journey) and Trish (Katie Cassidy, who is no stranger to genre television after appearing on Supernatural) by the end and considering slashers aren’t known for having two Final Girls, it made for some tense moments. I think the show finds it stride around episode six when the shit hits the fan. It’s not a moment too soon either, because the fact that no one was cluing into the growing list of missing persons was getting a little ridiculous. Then, by episode ten I was genuinely interested in seeing how things were going to turn out. This was likely due to Callum Keith Rennie’s appearance, which lends more credence to my theory that any project becomes more awesome with a little CKR! It’s not all grand though. There’s a moment on a bridge in one of the latter episodes that’s pretty cheesy and for every slasher cliché that is broken, there are two that are reinforced. The conclusion seemed a tad outlandish, but when are the evil machinations of a psychopath ever simplistic? It’s not must-see-TV, but it’s certainly some pretty good entertainment, especially if you are into this sort of thing.

Harper’s Island was an interesting experiment and is one best viewed in one or two sittings as opposed to week-to-week. I guess that pretty much goes for any ongoing serial these days though, doesn’t it? How the hell did we ever survive before the advent of PVR’s and DVD?

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