When I read it was a Scream-like TV series I instantly thought it was a great idea. I remember how entertaining films like I Know What You Did Last Summer and Urban Legend were. Sexy babes running around half naked and scared to death with the usual dumb and completely irrational decisions made. So I wasn't expecting Harper's Island to reinvent the wheel and imprint its own identity in the horror genre. And well after watching this episode I can say it almost lived up to my expectations.
First there're both beautiful actresses and really dumb characters. The redhot blonde, the naive guy who wants to get married as soon as possible, the fishermen butchering meat in bright daylight, rich and average people clashing against each other, emo-teenagers… So It almost felt like hanging in a candy shop and wondering which sweet you will taste next. The other nice thing about it was the actual story. Using an island is not original but at least it allows the writers to better shape things. It's like if the events were taking place in their own time and dimension. There're them and the outside world. It's how it felt when they left the boat, like if they were about to enter the Realm of Scream. One last good thing was the acting. There're many known faces and the performances made the characters more believable even if they weren't all perfect.
However it was far from being flawless and in fact many things disappointed me. For example even if you don't expect the characters to be original some of them are real clichés. It's a bad thing because it's obvious they're already on the death list. But of course the intriguing part is that you don't know when it's going to happen, that leads us to an other problem. Indeed it felt like some scary scenes were just here to fill the blanks. And the real issue is that they weren't scary at all, even ridiculous at times. It was specially disappointing considering how short some of them were. So instead of focusing on too many characters and events at the same time I think the writers should have properly introduced them one after the other. For example what about a new character arriving on the island per episode ? Also an other problem was the film editing. I don't know who was in charge but that person was probably killed before the job was done or it didn't know what continuity means. Sometimes it almost felt like the scenes were randomly filmed and edited. It's not mixing, it's shaking and the result wasn't just awful.
So this episode had both pros and cons but in general I think it achieved its goal of emulating Scream. In fact my only major complain is that it should also have grabbed some ideas from cult films like Final Destination or The Descent. I want to get really scared and have no idea of what will happen next. So I really hope the writers will come up with better story elements in the upcoming episodes or else the viewers will leave the island one by one. Moreover I can't help comparing the protagonists with charismatic characters like Sidney so we'll see if Abby grows on us as much as the emo-girl did in the Scream trilogy.