A murder mystery turned slasher film in 13 episodes – what a fantastic idea!
First off, I loved the premise for this show! As a big horror fan, the idea of the big group being picked off one by one over a multi-episodic story arc really appeals to me – it should allow time to really get to know some of the characters (though unlikely to be all of them, given that there are 25 suspects to be whittled down). The location wedding of Henry (Christopher Gorham) and Trish (Katie Cassidy is the setting of the mystery, as gruesome murders echo events from the eponymous Islands past.
CBS have managed to offer up a pretty good pilot with their first episode Whap (with each title referring to the sound of the main death in the episode, in this case Uncle Marty), giving glimpses into the murders that occurred 7 years previously on the island, and to the backstories of a few characters. With so many characters to introduce in the first episode, only a few of them were given much depth – I look forward to that changing. The class difference between the bride and groom (and their respective friends) adds an interesting conflict to the wedding, epitomised in the father of the bride, Thomas Wellington (Richard Burghi), whose plot to derail the wedding by bringing back the bride's past lover Hunter Jennings (Victor Webster) is the one part of this pilot that I didn't like. This storyline came across as cheesy and clichéd, though it was redeemed slightly by Trish stating categorically her love for her fiancé, making her more endearing than your typical confused bride.
At this stage, I have no idea who the killer could be, or why they would be doing it. The constant references to the islands past and the Wakefield killings make it clear that the two events are connected, and this larger mystery is intriguing. With only small flashes of what went on before, it is clear that discovering more about that will give a clearer picture of what is going on now. It is interesting however that it all seems to centre around Abby Mills (Elaine Cassidy), the grooms best friend, whose mother was killed by John Wakefield in the original massacre.
With at least one death promised every week, it is clear that this show will include brutal and unexpected murders, and the decision to get the first one out of the way before they'd even reached the island was genius, truly giving a sense of how dangerous this killer is. To then take Uncle Marty, played by one of the shows biggest names, Harry Hamlin, and indisputably one of the pilots most interesting characters, and kill him off at the end, was a very bold message to the audience that no-one is safe. Uncle Marty was carrying a gun and a bag of money, flirting with younger women and threatening the man who's putting his nephew's happiness at risk made him easily the most watchable character – I just hope that we get some answers to his behaviour despite his untimely, and gruesome, demise on the bridge, which set the standard high for the climactic deaths to future episodes.
Finally, my thoughts on some individual characters:
Abby: The main protagonist of the show, Abby is both tough and likable. I'm still impressed by Elaine Cassidy's American accent, which slipped a little once, but is otherwise flawless! To have her drink beer with the groomsmen, and break up a bar fight easily endears her to the audience, and I look forward to seeing exactly why all the madness seems to centre around her.
Sidenote: Also want to see more of her friend Nikki from the bar – that girl rocks!
Sheriff Mills (Jim Beaver): It's a credit to this actor that he probably had the least screen time, yet already sticks out as one of the most interesting characters. Clearly there is a lot we don't know about his relationship with Abby, but the short conversation in the car already makes him a sympathetic character about whom I look forward to learning more.
Chloe and Cal: Chloe (Cameron Richardson) could easily be just a typical blonde bombshell character – she's girly, flirty and at one point she strips off and runs off into the sea at night. However, her interest in serial killers adds an interesting aspect that could elevate her beyond her stereotype – we'll just have to wait to see if it will. As for Cal (Adam Campbell), the most foppish British stereotype I've seen in a while, his bumbling nature could easily get irritating. His engagement hopes gain him some sympathy, though the look of rage on his face as he dunked Chloe underwater shows there could well be another side to him...
Madison (Cassandra Sawtell): CREEPY CHILD ALERT!! This girl is freaky. While it would be a bit far-fetched to have her behind it all, I can't help but be suspicious of this girl, who somehow seems more clued in than most about what's going on.
The groomsmen seem like an interesting bunch of guys, while the bridesmaids remain fairly undeveloped so far.
The first episode introduced a lot of characters – bring on episode 2 and hopefully some further development! I can't wait!