Harper’s Island: Episode 9

harpersCumilative body count so far: 16

Dire-logue: “Staying here is the only way we’re going to be safe.”

As the search for Madison continues, Abby gets a look at the Wakefield journal and discovers that she just might be his daughter! Gasp-a-rooney! With what JD told her about it all being ‘about her’, maybe we’re starting to get to some answers.

The majority of this episode occurs in the rooms and secrets passages of the Candlewick Inn, where some of the group go looking for a vanished Beth, while Shae waltzes off to find the psychic from several episodes back.

Shane tries to befriend Katherine, while most of the group consider Abby to be the killer or, at the very least, cursed. (Parts of) Beth are found and Abby locates Madison and escorts her to safety, but not after a brief encounter with the unseen killer. Meanwhile, Cal and Chloe do a bad job of babysitting Sheriff Mills, who disappears while they have sex on a gurney – and there’s a second grim surprise waiting in the sitting room of the Candlewick…

Plane Perfect

fd-dvdFINAL DESTINATION

4.5 Stars  2000/15/94m

“No accidents. No coincidences. No escapes. You can’t cheat death.”

Director: James Wong / Writers: Jeffrey Reddick, Glen Morgan & James Wong / Cast: Devon Sawa, Ali Larter, Kerr Smith, Kristen Cloke, Seann William Scott, Amanda Detmer, Chad E. Donella, Tony Todd, Daniel Roebuck, Roger Guenvuer Smith.

Body Count: 5…+ 287 others

Dire-logue: “Because of you I have to sit here and watch…fucking Stuart Little.


It’s strange to think how long ago the year 2000 was in film terms, well in any terms really. I was a carefree 21-year-old lapping up any and every dead teenager film I could find. The Scream franchise ended in that year (although recent rumours may suggest otherwise) and there were a lot of theatrically released slasher flicks: Cherry Falls, Urban Legends: Final Cut, Hollow Man, Scary Movie (when it wasn’t done to death). But this one beats ‘em all.

Done to death is a fitting choice of words, as it not only describes the premise of this film, but also what’s happened to it thanks to the degrading scripts for its three sequels, the most recent of which is due out later this year. Fresh from seeing the trailer for The Final Destination, I decided to blow the dust off the original film and give it another whirl. Truth is, I dropped half a star off. Yes, it still kicks ass, the plane crash still terrifies me and the bus moment has truly become part of horror history – but, I dunno, the film kinda wore out its welcome towards the end and I got a bit bored, my index finger flirting with the fast-forward option.

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As if it needs introduction, Final Destination quite blatently re-tells the story of TWA 800 for its opening shock. High-schooler Alex (Sawa – where’d his career go?) is off to Paris on a class trip and is a little anxious about the 7-hour flight. And so he should be, no sooner are they off the ground, than the Boeing 747 starts to shake, rattle n’ roll, the cabin loses pressure, the fuselage splinters, kids get blown out into the void and they’re eventually eaten up by a wall of fire – then he wakes up. Minor coincidences tell him this was no dream and he causes a ruckus that gets him, five other students and a teacher ejected from the flight, which then explodes minutes later, much to the shock of those who were yelling at him seconds beforehand.

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It’s the perfect urban legend. We only need to look at the aftermaths of similar incidents to read those stories of lucky souls who missed their plane to gauge what an impressive concept we’ve been given here. A few weeks after the incident, Alex finds his fellow ejectees start dropping dead in increasingly bizarre ways. A contrived trip to the morgue with weird girl Clear (Larter) culminates in a meeting with Tony Todd’s gravel-voiced mortician, who informs them that they cheated death, so now it’s coming back to collect on the debt. Ergo, instead of your standard whodunit, Final Destination is, rather, a howdunit

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The victims are stalked by a dark blobby shadow that has the power to make taps leak, but more often than not just capitalises on the mistakes of its quarry: stepping out into the road, drinking vodka from a broken mug, slipping over on to wires etc. The deaths are impressively choreographed, occasionally funny and liberally bloody, though not nearly as much as in the follow-ups and often forecast by images and factors seen earlier on. The cast gel together impressively, with character traits and flaws used to give a dimension all but entirely absent in the ensuing films; Sawa is a good reluctant psychic and Larter an interesting heroine and their friends slightly less developed but equally affected by the guilt from surviving the plane crash.

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Because of the gravity of the plane crash and it’s terrifyingly realised effects work, things can only go down hill to an extent: no matter how creative death is, it can’t compare. Supposed rules governing the order in which the victims die are interesting but became suffocating in the sequels and tie-in novels and the shocker ending chosen over the original, softer final scene cemented the franchise, with a new film surfacing only every three years. Sounds like I’m down on the sequels, but I liked them – more than that, Final Destination 2 is loads of fun, 3 was good but sleazy and I imagine 4/The will follow the tried and tested plan. The fact that there’s no T&A in the first one is telling. Try to forget how contrived the whole concept became and enjoy it for what it is.

"I'll see you soon... I've signed on for the sequel."

“I’ll see you soon… I’ve signed on for the sequel.”

Blurbs-of-interest: Larter and Todd returned in Final Destination 2 and Todd was back again for the fifth movie, and can also be seen in Scarecrow Slayer, iMurders, two of the Hatchet films, and Jack the Reaper ; Kerr Smith appeared in the 3D remake of My Bloody Valentine. Kristen Cloke was in the Black Christmas remake, that was produced and directed by writer Glen Morgan.

Suffer (because of) the little children

thechildrenTHE CHILDREN

4 Stars  2008/18/81m

“You brought them into the world. They will take you out.”

Director: Tom Shankland / Writers: Paul Andrew Williams & Tom Shankland / Cast: Eva Birthistle, Stephen Campbell Moore, Jeremy Sheffield, Rachel Shelley, Hannah Tointon, Eva Sayer, Raffiella Brooks, Jake Hathaway, William Howes.

Body Count: 6

Dire-logue: Casey – “Have you ever heard of feminism?” Jonah – “Has it got anything to do with self-absorbed lazing around?”


Those of us who don’t have children can’t always understand the behaviours of those who do, it’s more evident if your brothers and sisters have kids. They become over-sensitive to their surroundings, potential influences and would happily see you burnt at the stake before admitting their offspring was the one who actually scribbled all over the wallpaper.

In Tom Shankland’s entirely chilling story, two ‘picture perfect’ families gather to ring in New Year’s at a secluded mock-tudor neo-mansion in a snowy December. Elaine and Jonah have brought their kids Miranda and autistic Paulie, as well as Elaine’s teen daughter Casey to her sister Chloe (bit of a showy bitch) and brother-in-law Robbie’s place, where they want to home school their Kodak-kids Nicky and Leah. It’s all catalogue-shine and barely contained quips as the sisters try to out-Mom each other to prove who’s best, while Jonah chisels away at Robbie in the hope of an investment for importing some Chinese herbs or something, and Casey just wants to be able to use her phone.

children1The little kids, all under 10, are acting a bit weird. They feel sick and we see that there are icky, multiplying germs around them. The joyous facade begins to fall apart at the seams when the family cat vanishes and the kids all go haywire over lunch, soon escalating into the death of hunky dad Robbie in what’s been made to look like a sledging accident but is anything but! Chloe goes ape and Casey begins to suspect the children as they fail to emote, unless their crying and whining is to trick the next schmuck into wandering into their trap!

The Children has a bold sense of grit – common in British horror – and doesn’t shy away from showing its criticism of modern ‘over-parenting’ as some of the adults simply won’t accept their kids are anything but angelic cherubs from heaven and would rather blame anything or anyone else for the unfolding terror, namely Casey. It also doesn’t shy away from the deaths of the kids at the hands of their parents as self defence becomes the only option (though why they don’t just knock them out with a golf club and lock them away, I’m not sure). (Some of) the children are killed quite mercilessly, the kind of thing you just don’t see on your TV! It’s a brave step, one that would sink a film of a larger, starrier proportions, but as a micro-budgeted indie flick, who’s gonna notice?

children2Definitely not one to show pregnant cousin Sally or those X4-driving Mums outside school, they’re likely to get more violent than anything shown on screen at the mere suggestion of killer kids getting killed back! Shankland, who directed W Delta Z (Waz), is a talented helmer, making great use of the sparse landscape and doe-eyed psychopaths as they glare at their doomed makers. It’s slash that doesn’t really adhere to being slash but still kinda is, albeit with a 28 Days Later type creepy ending. Additional points for the presence of bona fide eye-candy Sheffield.

Blurbs-of-interest: Jeremy Sheffield played Guy in Creep; Rachel Shelley was the heroine in Lighthouse.

Harper’s Island: Episodes 7 & 8

harpersCumilative body count so far: 14

Dire-logue: “Terrified, unskilled people should not be handling weapons.”

With the murders out in the open, Episode 7 takes us into flashback territory. Groan. Ergo, things are padded out with Abby and Jimmy’s blossoming relationship and John Wakefield’s murder spree that claims her Mom.

We also meet Cole Harkin, a deputy who’s burnt up by an explosion rigged by Wakefield – he’s pally with J.D., who is now the chief suspect. Trish is having second thoughts about Henry and the frat boys discover Mal’s secret and the truth about Booth (complete with rhyme!) which culminates in Ep. 7’s one and only murder, which is a bit of a lamo off-camera affair… Things end with creepy kid Madison receiving a note “from Daddy” (who’s, like, dead) and entering a room where the door is slammed shut.

The wedding party attempt to leave but Madison’s disappearance keeps the main set at the Candlewick looking for her. Abby, Henry and Katherine discover Richard’s body and Abby gets a call from Madison claiming that if anybody leaves the island, they’ll die! (how, we don’t know – maybe the killer can fly too). Said killer breaks J.D. out of jail by shooting a nameless deputy and the killer strikes twice more before the end of the episode, which also sees disharmony between the guests, who think they’re immune from the hitlist because it’s mainly the Wellington’s who are under fire.

I’m still banking on my suspect of a few episodes ago, now as one half of a psycho duo, but wish they’d start offing some of the look-a-likey female characters – isn’t that what this genre’s supposedly all about? Not much bloodshed this week, but Abby is still at the centre of things… But why?

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