Harper’s Island (2009)

  • Creator: Ari Schlossbergharper's island
  • Main Cast: Elaine Cassidy, Christopher Gorham, Katie Cassidy

‘Mayday, mayday – this is Harper’s Island requesting immediate assistance’

Seven years after John Wakefield murdered six people on Harper’s Island, including her mother, Abby Mills braves returning to her childhood home for the wedding of her best friend Henry Dunn and rich girl Trish Wellington.

Despite Wakefield being long dead, it soon becomes clear that someone has murderous intent towards the wedding party – who have a fair few secrets of their own to grapple with as well.

View the trailer here

I read an interview with Jon Turtletaub (Director of The Meg) recently, where he referred to his work on Harper’s Island. He was Executive Producer of the series, and the fleeting reference was enough to ensure the series has been in my head ever since. I decided it was time for a re-watch, and blitzed the whole series this past weekend.

There are a host of inventive and shock death scenes from the start of the first episode. I really don’t think there is a dull moment in the thirteen episodes. Each episode is onomatopoeically named after one of the key deaths, which lead me to some interesting and disturbing contemplations over exactly what sound an axe to the head or a harpoon to the chest makes!

One of the biggest benefits of a slasher story in TV series format, over a slasher film, is there is time to fully develop a range of characters. Harper’s Island does that brilliantly. There’s a host of supporting characters, who I came to enjoy and care about far more than the obvious main characters. The love story between Cal and Chloe is beautiful; the growth of seemingly selfish and shallow characters like Sully or Shane into full blown antiheroes is convincingly done. There are deaths in this series that actually make me cry, even on the third time of watching, which I don’t think I’ve ever done in a slasher film.

Harper’s Island maybe loses a little on re-watching, once you no longer have the mystery element. However, I can still remember the shock of the final reveal – having suspected pretty much everyone at some point or another, I still found the ultimate solution to be such a surprise. I wish I could watch it afresh again for the first time!

While this is relatively light slasher fare for most of the series, the final reveal leads it down a darker and heart-wrenching path. This is such a well made and engaging series – I cannot recommend it enough!