Imagine preparing to marry the girl of your dreams on the island in which you grew up, only to have a sadistic serial killer begin killing off all of your friends and family. The 2009 mini-series, Harper’s Island, was a horror-mystery that played out for 13 weeks and kept audiences wondering which character was going to be killed next. The show was fun, intense, and at times humorus most of the way through and with its list of likeable characters, it was enjoyable to watch. Its only falter was a cliche and predictable ending that can easily be overlooked when considering the rest of the show’s interesting elements.
Harper’s Island premiered on CBS back in 2009 and promised 13 weeks, 25 suspects, 1 killer. The mini-series opens with Henry (Christopher Gorham) and Trish (Katie Cassidy) boarding a ferry to their hometown of Harper’s Island where, along with their friends and family, the pair would be married. Henry’s best friend, Abby (Elaine Cassidy), joins in on the monumental moment, returning home 7 years after a murderer killed her mother and 5 other people there.
Unbeknownst to the friends and family, Trish’s cousin Ben is strapped to the bottom of the boat and inevitably dies once they take off, thus setting off a chain of events that would change their lives forever. When the individuals arrive to Harper’s Island, they begin being killed off, one by one.
The original murders that took place years prior hangs as a dark cloud over the main characters for the entire series as they question whether or not the killer, John Wakefield, has come back for more. The body count increases with each episode and a list of suspects narrows once the core group realizes what is going on.
Although the series had its soap-opera moments, it played out like a typical horror slasher that any genre fan could enjoy. The non-stop deaths were always creative and brutal and only made you want to keep watching further, guessing how the next victim would meet their end.
As the series went on, it was hard not to become attached to a few of the main characters such as Trish, Henry and Abby; however, the two characters that grabbed at my heartstrings were couple, Chloe and Cal, played by Cameron Richardson and Adam Campbell. The pair started as one-dimensional individuals who quickly grew into a loving pair that you could root for, although rooting for characters in a show like this doesn’t do them any good.
There was never a lull in the series where the audience had time to become bored because the island’s mysterious past was revealed gradually along with the current murders that started up again. The characters are in the dark on the sudden murder spree until a climax at a wedding rehearsal that throws every one of them for a loop. The scene was shocking, sad, and the death that occurs was slightly unexpected. Following this heartbreaking moment, things really pick up as the group try to figure out who’s committing the crimes and how to stay alive.
Everyone becomes a suspect as you play along, trying to figure out who the killer is. About halfway through the series, it became a little predictable when certain things are revealed, leading me to narrow down to two final suspects. When the big reveal came and it was explained why the murderer was doing what they were doing, it left me scratching my head saying, “Huh?”
My only problem with this show was the predictable ending and the stupid explanation behind the horrendus events that happened to 25 people. The whole thing could have done without the explanation that was given or it could have been much better. It was as if the writers had no idea where they were going at the beginning of the series and just decided to make a person a killer, for a shocking “twist”, that only made the finale seem thrown together in a rush.
Aside from the less-than-perfect ending, the series was entertaining most of the way through. The performances from Gorham, Elaine and Katie Cassidy, as well as Jim Beaver were heartbreaking and chilling from beginning to end as well as several side characters who made you really fall for them too.
If you missed the series the first time around you should definitely check it out on Netflix. It’s easy to get into and it’s fast paced, resulting in a enjoyable experience. Just be prepared for a weak ending that may or may not satisfy you.