After surviving a maniacal murderer last summer, Julie needs a little R&R. Lucky for her, she wins a trip to The Bahamas. Unlucky for her, the murderer shows up for another shot at revenge. Can she stop him before it’s too late? Find out in… I Still Know What You Did Last Summer.
How?! A year after the events of the first film, we find our hero Julie working hard at Harvard to make up for her freshman academic woes. She’s still dating Ray, the fisherman living back home, but their relationship is on the rocks. With July 4th approaching, Julie dreads heading home, so when her roommate Karla wins a trip for four to The Bahamas it provides the perfect excuse. Ray plans on surprising Julie by coming on the trip, but on his way to Boston the fisherman murderer shows up and seriously injures him. He’s left scrambling to try to make it to The Bahamas to warn Julie. With Ray nowhere to be found Julie’s totally platonic whitebread nerd-alert friend, Will, tags along as they head down to paradise… or so they think. Turns out the resort is on a secluded island that is basically deserted for storm season. Trapped by a monster storm on the horizon, Julie and her friends are terrified to find that the murderer has followed them. Turns out that [SPOILER ALERT] the fisherman murderer actually used to work at the resort and was suspected of murdering his two-timing wife decades ago before fleeing. Also turns out that Will is actually his son and they teamed up to trick Julie into going to the island. They corner her in a spooky scary graveyard, but at the last moment Ray arrives and together they defeat Will and his father. He is definitely dead this time and will never come back ever obviously because that would be ridiculous. But wait, what if… it wasn’t? Bum, bum, bum!
Why?! As is the case with most horror films the motivation lies entirely in the hands of the murderer. Julie, Ray, and the rest of the gang are just looking to get laid and paid. The murderer on the other hand is doling out years of revenge. As I see it, he is angry because: 1. His daughter was killed in a road accident and the driver wasn’t punished enough… this enraged him. 2. After murdering the driver he was hit by a car… this extra enraged him. 3. After doling out some revenge he was thrown off a boat and lost his hand… this double extra enraged him. None of this really explains his obsession with waiting for July 4th each year to enact revenge, but to each his own I guess.
What?! No great product placement here. Instead I’ll highlight another favorite of ours: when other pop culture references show up in a film. Like posters for films, books, etc. Early in this film we get a super close-up of a book that Julie is reading. It’s the sequel to Scott Turow’s book Presumed Innocent, The Burden of Proof. Sometimes they’ll drop something like this into a film as weird foreshadowing, if it relates to other works done by people associated with the film, the maker is just a fan of the work, they simply needed a prop, or it’s a joke. This feels like a “prop.” (PATRICK NOTE: I am now reading Presumed Innocent because of this, I’m a crazy person, welcome to my Bad Movie Book Book Club (BMBBC)).
Who?! The obvious highlight here is Jack Black who appears uncredited despite appearing in three major scenes in the film. He’s ostensibly comic relief as a stoner/forgettable murder victim, but his appearance almost comes across as parody. Pretty early in his career to take an uncredited role, but maybe he was aware of how badly this film would be received? Don’t know.
Where?! After very obviously being set in NC, this film takes a wild jump to international waters to The Bahamas. Really nice A- setting as it truly depends on the tropical locale. This is also a great film to foreshadow an upcoming world map game where we collect all the countries of the world. It will of course be called Backstreet’s Map, Alright!
When?! Again we have to sound the Secret Holiday Alert! The murderer loves killing on July 4th. It’s almost like they were trying to have their own Halloween franchise, but with a decidedly unscary holiday. Also a Solid A.
While I still know that I thought this film was entirely ridiculous, you have to give them a hand for those setting. Just spectacular. Patrick?
‘Ello everyone! I Still Know What You Did Last Summer?! I still don’t wanna know! Two for the price of one on that NY Post headline. Actually the headline would have been something like “Audiences Didn’t Want To Know!”. So you just made a moderately successful film in the newly-minted Scream-induced resurrection of slashers, what is your next move? Yes, let’s take this to The Bahamas and introduce a ludicrously convoluted backstory for our favorite killer … Ben Willis (ooooh yeah … what you aren’t scared of Ben’s sweet hook action?). Let’s get into this!!
The Good (Sequel Prequel Remake) – One of the best comedies I’ve seen in years. When Jamie and I discussed this film there was a point in which we just described the storyline and started laughing. It is some of the funniest shit you’ll see. In the same vein: Jack Black is amazing-but-really-terrible-but-you-get-it-like-…-he’s-amazing in this film. It is like a parody film. Oh did none of this seem particularly good … yeah, this film is hilariously bad, almost mind-bogglingly so. Obviously I’m going Sequel because I need to know everything about the Willis family (Myers, VoorHees, Krueger … Willis, that is the Mount Rushmore no?). We know Ben Willis killed his wife in the Bahamas and moved to North Carolina with his son and daughter. Let’s go further. A young Ben Willis is a happy-go-lucky lad in Massachusetts, fishing with Papa Willis and having a grand old time. But one day he snaps and kills his entire family never to be seen again (perhaps he went to the Caribbean for some R&R …). Years later a traumatized Julie James and her husband Ray move into a house on Cape Cod. Little do they know the entire deal was set up by Ben Willis (who spent a few years getting his real estate license, natch) to bring them to his all-too-familiar familial home for one last shot at ice hook vengeance. It makes no sense, but you’ll learn everything about grandpa and grandma Willis in …. I Knew What You Did Last Summer.
The Bad (Sklognalogy) – This film is laughable. The acting, the premise, the fact that they felt the need to make a sequel to a mediocre slasher which is … the same movie except on a bad Caribbean set. It isn’t scary, they hide half the kills from you (probably for budget reasons), and did I mention it makes no sense. Ben Willis is from The Bahamas? Where the hell was his son during the events of the first movie? Did the son not go to highschool with the other kids? How did he get into Harvard without anyone noting the fact that two people from this incredibly small town both went to Harvard in the same year? It. Is. Ludicrous and I love it. Pure distilled trash. The analogy is probably something like Halloween Resurrection (although I haven’t seen that). That just seems like the right mix of follow-up-to-a-mediocre-slasher-that-crosses-the-rubicon-into-ridiculousness. Maybe Species II as far a ridiculous sequels to horror films go, if you want to stick to BMT.
The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – The legacy of this film should be quite nice. As far as BMT is concerned this is the first real post-90s slasher sequel we’ve done and it hits right at a time when the genre thought they could sustain such garbage and be fine (it can’t and didn’t). I will always remember this film for how they just blew out Ben Willis’ backstory for no reason and basically made a comedy from what would have otherwise been a boring forgettable genre sequel. And this time I’m somewhat stunned that I Still Know What You Did Last Summer got no play as far as I can tell for worst of 1998. People seemed distracted by Armaggeddon and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (of all things). I would have usually chalked this up to the fact that critics tend to ignore horror films, but Phantoms, Urban Legend, and Species II all made some lists. A travesty. The Will Benson reveal does get a little play as either a great or terrible twist though (it is terrible, for the record).
And I’ll close with a little Book Review. Little did we know I Know What You Did Last Summer was based on a book! And yes, we both read it which is crazy. The book is a very short lightweight teen thriller and in general is a pleasant enough read. Solid twist even. But I can see why the author was pissed about the adaptation … it isn’t a slasher. Almost the opposite. It is about guilt and the unforeseen consequences that chaotically reverberate across a small town from what was an unavoidable tragedy. Interesting read. Especially subsequent interviews about the movie (which, as I said, she hated). I’ll leave it there.