Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


HARPER'S ISLAND (2009). Creator: Ari Schlossberg. CBS TV maxi-series.

This Limited Series from CBS essentially takes the stalk-and-slash genre and applies it to a television format with interesting results. With increasing acceptability for gruesome graphics created by such programs as C.S.I., this program is almost as grisly in some spots as theatrical films -- the murders are certainly "inventive" and horrible. The premise has many people gathering on an island [which was the scene of a serial killer's slaughter years before] for a wedding between Henry (Christopher Gorham) and Trish (Katie Cassidy). When people begin disappearing, and mutilated bodies turn up, people wonder if that serial killer, John Wakefield (Callum Keith Rennie, who makes a rather handsome psychopath in flashbacks) is really dead after all. Or is there a copy cat? Or is the dead killer's offspring responsible for the new carnage?There are revelations with each episode, and an undeniable sense of creepiness, especially when some of the survivors descend into tunnels underneath the ground to search for a missing friend. Elaine Cassidy scores as the heroine of the show, Abby Mills, whose father (Jim Beaver) is the sheriff [and who kept a few secrets of his own]. Christopher Gorham, Rennie, and C. J. Thomasen as Jimmy also give stand-out performances, but in general the actors are always on top of things. The explanation for the killings is a little specious, but along the way there's a lot of suspense and quite a few chills. Cassandra Sawtell is notable as the creepy little girl, Madison.

Verdict: Don't trust anyone! ***.

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