Final body count: 31
And so it ends, the bizarre, drawn-out slasher flick that would normally only occupy a cool 85 minutes, but instead clocks in at around 546. The mystery is solved, a helluva lotta folks are dead – but who will walk away?
Before we get to that, I’ll share some of my early suspicions and stuff. Initially, I expected Cal to be the killer. Why? Well, American films quite often cast the Brit as the villain. It was a pleasant surprise to learn that he was neither the psycho nor a coward, less pleasant when he got skewered by John Wakefield.
I thought early on that there must be more than one killer, due to the presence of the primary cast members when murders were committed elsewhere.
In my little utopic Harperian Island, I wanted to see Abby survive along with all round nice bloke Danny, Trish, Jimmy and, yeah, okay, Madison. Kids usually irritate me in these with their ability to live through anything but she had that great creepy vibe and that excellent line: “I’m not going to get to be a flower girl…Abby!”
In Episode 12, Sully and Danny manage to capture John Wakefield, incapacitate and imprison him – everybody still able to breathe breathes a sigh of relief but we know better… Wakefield requests an audience with Abby and fills in a few historical gaps and says he located his son. Suspects narrowed down to four. Is it Jimmy like everyone thinks? Nah… Been down that alley before.
S P O I L A G E F O L L O W S . . .
After accidentally falling off a cliff (!), Trish finds a boathouse with a working radio and the group manage to summon the coastguard. Wakefield somehow breaks out and fights with Danny, managing to send him eye-first on to one of those paper-needle things (as seen in Intruder in 1988) and Shea and Madison escape. Unfortunately for the others, re-splitting up to take showers and stuff couldn’t be a more dense decision at the time and Trish puts on her wedding dress to show Henry. Coulda seen this coming… a noise outside sends him on the investigative detail and Wakefield attacks her, sending her on a woodland chase in her lovely white dress, which gets all dirty until she runs into the arms of Henry, who subsequently confesses he slipped Wakefield the key, murdered a whole loada people and then sticks a knife into her! Wakefield materialises: “Hi dad!”
Much of the finale sees Henry and his father trying to off the final five survivors before the coastguard arrives. After sending Shea and Madison off towards land in a small motorboat, Sully gets himself killed, leaving only Abby and Jimmy to figure out the truth just in time and Henry shockingly murders his own dad instead of Abby, sets fire to the church to cover up the deaths and, as far as the cops are concerned, all loose ends are tied up.
It turns out that Henry would rather be with his half-sister forever and traps her inside a house on the island where they can live in secret. Jimmy is tied up in the garage as a ploy; Henry wants him to confess to being Wakefield’s accomplice so that no harm comes Abby’s way. Of course, she has other ideas and they manage to break free, kill Henry and save the day, albeit too late for 27 of the other cast members.
So there you have it, Harper’s Island finishes. I’d switched suspects to Henry a few episodes back, given that the writers were trying to push us towards Jimmy as the killer and neither Sully nor Danny seemed to have motive (although in hindsight, remembering that Sully was Trish’s former lover, he could easily have been the killer). In truth, I doubted the killer would be female and half expected Booth might come back from beyond the grave also… Que sera.
They did the best with what was left, but, from about Episode 9 the whole thing was wearing thin. The requisite once-an-episode victim tally couldn’t fill a whole 45 minutes’ worth and flashback padding and drawn out scenes of paranoia and people walking around the woods with shotguns were getting a bit tiresome. Ergo, a mostly successful try at something different for TV but I think this might be the last we see of this format.
I liked the cast a lot, Elaine Cassidy was a good, if not standardized final girl with the usual set of issues and she was backed by some good talent. Here are the blurbs-of-interest for the roster: Katie Cassidy (Trish) was the heroine in the remake of Black Christmas and was also in the remake of When a Stranger Calls; Gina Holden (Shea) was one of the rollercoaster victims in Final Destination 3; both Brandon Jay McLaren (Danny) and Ben Cotton (Shane) were in Scar 3D; Claudette Mink (Katherine) was in both Children of the Corn: Revelation and Return to Cabin by the Lake; Chris Gauthier was one of the rave victims in Freddy vs. Jason and Richard Burgi appeared in Hostel Part II and the Friday the 13th reboot.