Crazy Uncle Ryan's favorite quotes

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."— Arthur C. Clarke

Monday, July 20, 2009

Harper's Island

Back in 1939 Agatha Christie published a book called And Then There Were None. In this book a group of people are trapped on a deserted island. Even though they are quite sure that they are the only people on the island one by one they start to be murdered. There was a great deal of fear in the hearts of each of the characters because they knew that the most likely scenario was that one of them was the murderer. But there was also the nagging fear that there might indeed be someone else on the island that they didn’t know about. And Then There Were None is considered to be one of Agatha Christie’s best novels and is by far her most financially successful. As a result of this fame there have over the years been numerous horror movies made based on the same premise of a group of people trapped on an island being killed off one at a time with no way of getting off.CBS just finished airing a single season, 13 episode show called Harper’s Island. When I first heard of this show it looked like just another cheap carbon copy of the template Christie employed in her classic novel. However, it turned out to be a very different and interesting take on the trapped-on-an-island-with-a-nutcase-killer story. The story is set on a fictional island off the Washington coast and features a previously supposed dead, serial killer named John Wakefield. The difference that I found so fascinating about this was the fact that this was not a deserted island. Harper’s Island was an inhabited island with hundreds of people with all the normal stuff that one would find in any other town. I found that way of doing things interesting because this type of story has so often depended on the fact that the characters are cut off from any help or escape. The way the creators of the show were able to make it all work was by keeping the first several murders secret from the characters. The people that were killed early on in the show were people who were supposedly about to leave the island anyway, flighty people who had a habit of taking off suddenly and without warning and people who most of the characters didn’t know were on the island anyway. One murder was even disguised as a suicide. Of course, eventually people start realizing what is going on and, like any good mystery, suspicion falls on several people before it is finally revealed who is behind it all.In the end, in addition to John Wakefield there was also a bad guy among the main group of characters that was committing some of the murders himself. Though this was a pretty good show, there were several things that I didn’t really like that much. First, when our crazy man finally shows his face and starts killing people openly you have one of the most annoying horror flick clich├ęs. That is the whole thing where five people with loaded shotguns can’t seem to kill one kook with a long ugly knife even though he is standing ten feet away from them. The other thing that bugged me was in the second to the last episode when we found out who Wakefield’s accomplice was. I know with these types of reveals it is supposed to be a huge surprise but when Henry turned out to be Wakefield’s son and accomplice it was so unexpected and such a big surprise to me that it didn’t really seem plausible.

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