Thursday, June 21, 2012

Harper's Island (TV 2009)

By DionysusPsyche
"Seven years ago, John Wakefield killed six people. Now it's happening again."

Abby Mills returns to her hometown on Harper's Island for her best friend's wedding. While she is excited to reunite with her friends, it is her first time returning to the island in 7 years. She has been reticent to go back and almost didn't attend the wedding. She has bad memories of her hometown. This is because her father sent her away after her mother was murdered, and she hasn't returned.

Until now. Although it seems that everyone has moved on, Abby can't escape the feeling that it's not safe. At first, she just thinks she's being paranoid. However, her suspicions are confirmed when the wedding party and guests start disappearing...and then are discovered dead. 

The players

Girl Next Door
Abby Mills (Elaine Cassidy), the heroine of the series and main character, is reminiscent of Neve Campbell's character in Scream. She's kick ass and doesn't need other people to try and save her (although they do come to her rescue from time to time). She used to date one of the locals, and her best friend is the groom. She has a strained relationship with her father, and is shy in the beginning. No one has died since she left the island.

The Best Friend and the Blushing Bride
Henry Dunn (Christopher Gorham) is the groom. He and his fianceĆ©, Trish Wellington (Katie Cassidy), are the perfect couple. They met on the island while Henry worked for Trish's father on his boat. Henry is outgoing, friendly, and thrilled to be spending the rest of his life with the woman of his dreams. He had hoped that the island would be the perfect reunion, backdrop, and reminder of where their love first blossomed. Trish is sweet, adorable, and idealistic. She and Henry have both lost family members that they were close to, something that brought them even closer together.

The Ex-Boyfriend
Jimmy Mance (C.J. Thomason) is Abby's ex-boyfriend from high school. He's a local fisherman in the town who still has unresolved feelings for Abby. When she returns to town, he hopes to see her as much as possible and talk to her since she never had the chance to say goodbye.

The bride and groom's families
Mr. Thomas Wellington (Richard Burgi), Trish's dad, comes from a line of wealth and is an investor. He disapproves of his daughter marrying below their class. He's there with Trish's stepmom (Claudette Mink), Trish's sister (Gina Holden), and her husband and daughter (David Lewis, and Cassandra Sawtell). I found the daughter creepy the entire time, although she'd probably be a sweet little girl in any other series.

Henry's uncle is in a lot of ways the opposite of Mr. Wellington. Uncle Marty approves of their love, and is something between a dad and a big brother. Henry's brother, JD, is the outcast of their family. A troubled individual, he suffers from depression and not unlike Abby, does not enjoy being on the island or around other people.

Location and Theme
Filmed in the scenic Vancouver B.C., the coast sets a beautiful and haunting picture to our story. The cabins, the forest area, and even the cliff's edge set an eerie tinge. The lighting and photography are things I noticed more about this show than others, although not for the show's lack of content.

It would be obvious to say that the past and unresolved issues are themes in the show, but nonetheless, it's important. When Abby packs up and leaves behind her home, she cannot forget or move on despite the distance. She's trapped mindfully on Harper's Island even though she's not really there. Her perception is that everyone has moved on and forgotten, the exception being one of the locals who like Abby is reminded of death and points out that at least Abby doesn't have to live there anymore. For our main character, this is both scary and sad--a reminder of who she could have become and how these series of tragedies ruined this person's life. The folks Abby relates to most are the ones who've also experienced loss of a similar vein such as J.D, Henry, and Jimmy.

While it seems like a lot of characters to handle, they're distinguishable (and die off frequently enough). The characters are extremely interesting. While one can and could stereotype each character as something, they each provide different viewpoints, strengths during crisis, and they all react in unique ways to the surmounting number of deaths that happen in close proximity to them. It's a large cast, but each actor brings something new to the table and is both untrustworthy and dependable from episode to episode although the psychology behind why each person would make a decent killer varies greatly. Everyone has motive, with the exception of two characters who I didn't find to be guilty throughout.

This mini-series is a thriller/horror television show; thirteen episodes of edge-of-your-seat excitement. The show kills up to five characters per episode. Every episode there was a different character that seemed to obviously fit the bill of killer. Even the most innocent of characters would do or say something to make themselves suspect. The characters are one or the other: they're either already quite close or they're enemies. The series is adept at building suspense, making cases for and against each character as to whom the killer may be, and both building alliances as well as tearing friendships down as the show continues. The show has a very "coming of age" feel that could be seen on 90210 or The O.C. with the added bonus of taking what's good about those shows and mixing in mystery and excitement. People also don't die in expected ways, which is interesting to see. Each episode is based on sounds of death which is creepy.

Every time I thought I knew who the killer was, I changed my mind. I like to rewatch old shows, but of all the shows I like to rewatch, I don't typically like to rewatch thrillers. You can only watch a show with shock value so often. I do own this show, and every once in awhile, I rewatch it just for fun. Even though I know what's going to happen. Despite it being a one-time watching sort of thriller, I still see things in it that lead me to the final conclusion about who the killer is.


  1. Oh yeah, as to the deaths in the show? You know that famous time that guy is killed in the season one finale of that HBO show and everyone was like "OMG?" It's like that nearly every time.

    One by one...

  2. I just saw this!! Yes, I love this show. I want to watch it a LOT given that its typical suspense is a one time thing. I will still rewatch it, even if I'm the only one.