After accidentally hitting a man with a car, four teenagers dispose of the body and vow to tell no one. A year later they all receive threatening notes regarding the accident. Can they stop this maniacal killer before it’s too late? Find out in… I Know What You Did Last Summer.
How?! Julie, Ray, Barry, and Helen are the raddest kids in town and boy howdy do they know it. Celebrating the 4th of July before they leave their podunk North Carolina town for college, they accidentally hit a man walking along the darkened road on the seaside cliffs. Fearing jail and loss of reputation the kids vow to tell no one and dispose of the body in the sea. A year later this devastating secret has wreaked havoc on their lives. Julie is struggling in school, Ray has settled for being a townie fisherman, Helen never made it big in acting, and Barry is a total asshole (but wasn’t he always?). As July 4th approaches they begin to get threatening notes hinting that their secret may not be so secret after all. These notes culminate in a murderer in a fisherman’s outfit coming after them with a giant hook. After Barry and Helen are fatally hooked by the fisherman, Ray and Julie figure out that [SPOILER ALERT] the man they hit survived! Lured onto the man’s fishing boat in a moment of panic, Julie and Ray must confront their tormentor. Ray is able to gain the upper hand and throw the man overboard. Unfortunately, the police are never able to recover a body, only his severed hand clutching a hook. Bum bum bum!
Why?! So the incredibly detailed backstory involves a fisherman named Ben Willis whose daughter is killed in an accident. He blames his daughter’s boyfriend who was driving at the time for her death. On the anniversary of the accident he sent a threatening note to the boyfriend (mistaken for the boy’s own suicide note) who despondently goes to the seaside cliffs to drink his sorrows away. There Ben Willis kills him. Presumably super satisfied with a job well done, Ben Willis proceeds to walk down the darkened road back to town when all of a sudden he gets his just desserts and is hit by our protagonists. His “corpse” is dumped in the ocean, but he is somehow able to survive. Enraged by the arrogance of these kids he vows revenge… again… a year later… again… because he’s a crazy person and everything has to happen on July 4th? I don’t know, his motivations are straight bonkers. I feel like he should have recovered from the accident and been like, “Gotta admit. Karma’s a bitch.” As for our protagonists, they just want to get paid and laid… oh, and live.
What?! It’s no secret what the coolest teens in town are drinking this summer. With a cool refreshing taste and zero calories there’s nothing to feel guilty about when you hook yourself a delicious… Diet Coke!
Who?! Nearly forgot that a band appears in the film at a beach party the teens attend just prior to MURDERING SOMEONE. According to IMDb that band is Southern Culture on the Skids and they are a staple of 90’s and 2000’s comedies. Can’t wait to hear them again in Without a Paddle.
Where?! Very nice settings film. It is made clear that this film takes place in Southport, NC. This is a real town in North Carolina and is apparently also the setting for The Birds II: Land’s End, the totally unavailable TV movie sequel to The Birds. Cool stuff. B+.
When?! Secret Holiday Film Alert! As mentioned this takes place on July 4th. Even has a fantastic scene where the killer exclaims “Happy 4th of Joooo-ly.” That is an A if I’ve ever seen one.
‘Ello everyone! I Know What You Did Last Summer? I’d rather not know! Four teens are given a tough choice: face the music in a vehicular manslaughter charge, or tango with a murderous fisherman ghost. And they make a pooooor decision, let’s get into it!
The Good (Sequel, Prequel, Remake) – I actually didn’t mind this film for the most part. It had a few moments of Scream in there, kind of a humorous play on tropes. If you can get past the fact that it is one of the least scary horror film you’ll ever see (and isn’t that the point?) it is probably high up on a list of solid big-release horror films made between 1995 and 2005. I would go as far to say I dug the final fight. They go two-on-one with Freddie Prinze Jr. and Jennifer Love Hewitt versus the bad guy which is actually a pleasantly equitable battle. And they have a very nice fishing boat set piece used to great effect. If anything I would remake it. Keep the core story, introduce an early kill to the film, and bring it back to the low budget slashers of the 80s. If that sounds unclear it probably is because it is unclear … I’m not sure it would fix any of the problems. I mainly just want an early kill (see below).
The Bad (Sklognalogy) – Let’s get this out of the way in this recap: neither of these films are scary. Not even for a moment. The killer has a lame ass weapon. It lends itself to some nice corpse dragging effects, but other than that they have to kind of pretend he can do more with it than hook people’s mouths (as unpleasant as that already is) … he can’t, that’s his one solid move. The acting is pretty rough despite having what appears to be a star studded cast. They also go a little far with the horror-movie-magic … you’re telling me a weirdo fisherman is clearing up a dead body and a bunch of crabs out of a trunk in broad daylight? Give me a break (fine … it was probably a delusion by Julie James, but that is even worse). It is a weak slasher, despite the occasional bright spot. It isn’t a BMT film (nor will it be), but I feel like the analogy is something like Halloween H20. Some bright spots here and there, maybe some decent kills … but still a poor excuse for a slasher. Complete with its own travesty of a sequel.
The BMT (Legacy + StreetCreditReport.com) – I don’t think this has a legacy besides I guess being on a long list of not very good late 90s horror films. And as far as street cred … there is none, nary a whisper among the critics at the time. You see, this is a bonus film through and through. It is barely BMT. It isn’t good, but it also isn’t totally bad. I generally agree with the attitude that this film would have been much better received if it came out before Scream, but got a bit of a short end of the stick because it is somewhat correctly viewed as a copycat of that superior film. The end.
I’m going to do a quick Sklognalysis here. We’ve been watching a lot of slashers recently, specifically Friday the 13th, and I feel like I’ve come to an understanding and appreciation of the genre. In I Know What You Did Last Summer, there is one thing I simply could not get past nor abide: it takes like 40 minutes before you see a kill in this film. Friday the 13th always rocked the opening kill. It gets people in the mood, gives a little preview of the killer’s MO, etc. But the thing I hesitate with is: Is it a necessity in a good slasher? Perhaps my view is colored by what might be termed the Stalker version of slashers (Scream, this, eventually Friday the 13th are examples) where the killers come and get you. There it feels like you want an early kill to get people tense about the approach of the killer. In the Cabin in the Woods killer though the good guys go to the bad guy who is kind of just chilling in the woods. There the happy-to-terrified journey is itself tense (something is wrong -> the characters slowly realize it -> first kill -> all hell breaks loose is a solid formula). Here we got a Stalker, and we needed to see him wield that sweet ice hook early and often, otherwise you lose steam and kind of end up bored. That’s my opinion: the fatal flaw of this film was no early kill. I’d even say it takes precedence over hiding the killer’s identity (that rarely works), just give me a kill!