|I Know What You Did Last Summer
1997 - R - 105 Mins.
|Director: Jim Gillespie
|Producer: Stokely Chaffin, Erik Feig, Neal H Moritz
|Written By: Kevin Williamson
|Starring: Jennifer Love Hewitt, Freddie Prinze, Jr., Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillipe, Anne Heche
|Review by: John Ulmer
The biggest shock of "I Know What You Did Last Summer" is that it was written by Kevin Williamson, the man behind the clever horror parody that was "Scream." Characters in that film knew the horror cliches and even spoke of them. Characters in "I Know What You Did Last Summer" don't seem to have a brain, and they apparently have never been near a Freddy Krueger movie, but that's okay. Well, no, actually, it isn't.
The movie opens with an airborne shot of an atmospheric lake in Maine, but that's about as far as the movie gets to anything remotely interesting. The rest is a straight downfall after we see four teens driving home one night through a windy road. Helen (Sarah Michelle Gellar) has just won the beauty pageant, and her boyfriend, Barry (Ryan Phillipe), a hot-headed rich kid, is drunk, so Ray (Freddy Prinze, Jr.) is driving everyone home, including his girlfriend, Julie (Jennifer Love Hewitt). Along the way they strike a man in the middle of the road. Afraid that their aspiring futures could be ruined by the incident, they throw the body into the lake/river we saw earlier and it sinks to the bottom. They don't know that the person they hit is still alive.
A year passes. Julie comes home for summer from her college and gets a mysterious note that says, "I know what you did last summer." Ingenious, I never thought that the title would be so unoriginal. Anyway, soon a fisherman killer comes after the four teens and ends up killing others in their path.
You can tell who is going to die in a movie such as "I Know" by simply glancing at the poster for the film. Still, I won't ruin anything. I will say that the surprise "twist" is stupid. I like horror mysteries when the killer has been introduced early in the film and we have to figure out who he/she is. I don't like horror mysteries when it turns out the killer is someone we have never seen and therefore are left in the dark throughout the entire movie. They're not funy because we can't take a guess at who the killer may be. It's like reading an Agatha Christie novel without the setup.
Our characters scream and run and scream some more and slap their cheeks in a Macaulay Culkin fashion and scream some more and run some more. And then, after that, they scream. Perhaps this film should have been the one named "Scream." The characters do some of the dumbest things I've ever seen, and somehow this human killer manages to always be one step ahead of everyone else, being able to creep into houses and not be seen by anyone. This is okay if he's a supernatural villain--something this film should have employed over its really pathetic ending and that would have given a much more eerie sense to the film (and more room for unwanted sequels). But he/she is not supernatural. He/she is human. That blows. What if he was caught? What would he say? "I Know" doesn't want us to worry about such things. But we do. There's a lack of believability when a cloaked figure can walk into a shower room, past a guard, then back out again, sneak into a car, run a teenager off a road, and not be seen by anyone (and there are no people standing outside when this happens, either).
This is a dumb horror film--the type that "Scream" parodied so well. It's a shame to see Kevin Williamson slipping into mediocrity. It's even worse knowing that this film was a blockbuster hit. "I Know What You Did Last Summer" is everything a typical horror film is comprised of. If you are the type of person who likes to get some brief squeals and shrieks while things jump out at the screen, this movie may be for you. But even then, this film is just not scary. I jumped once--at the very end that implies a sequel (which was released a year later, named, of all things, "I Still Know What You Did Last Summer"). Only real big fans of the genre will enjoy this. And once again, even then, the big fans won't be thrilled by this because they will have seen it all already.