I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)

14 May

1997-as-buffy-fever-raged-gellar-launched-her-movie-career-with-i-know-what-you-did-last-summer-alongside-a-trifecta-of-90s-pop-celebrities-freddie-prinze-jr-ryan-philippe-and-jennifer-love-hewitt-the-movie-grossed-125-million.jpg

Smith’s Verdict: *1/2

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

Of all the boring, deplorable slasher-movies to resurface in the mid-1990s, “I Know What You Did Last Summer” at least has an advantage of having an interesting story. (In fact, it sounds more interesting than it actually is.) Here’s the setup: four young friends celebrate the 4th of July when they get into an accident. That night, they accidentally hit a man on a dark highway with their car, and kill him. Unwilling to face manslaughter charges, they decide to take the body and dump it off a pier and into the sea, and never speak of it again. Exactly one year later, they’re reunited in their hometown when they receive notes that say “I know what you did last summer” and are stalked by a mysterious figure. Who is it? Was it someone who saw what they did that night? is it the same person, revealed not to be dead? Is it one of his relatives or friends? One thing is for sure—whoever it is wants to pay them back.

That sounds like a good idea, and you can develop dramatic tension with that premise, as well as suspense. For example, the guilt that these four people feel since that accident must be a huge amount of such, and that it drifted them apart makes it more complex. And there is a character—the victim’s sister—that is probably the most interesting person in the movie. She’s a recluse who lives alone in a country house and apparently has not fully come to grips with her brother’s death.

I wish the movie had been more about her. It would have been more interesting than how it is now, because as it is now, “I Know What You Did Last Summer” is just a bore. It’s a typical slasher movie. The characters are not developed in a way that you care for who lives and who dies. The situations are laughably bad. And the killer in this movie is a fisherman with a slicker, hat, and hook (in a fishing town it’s said that a lot of people wear slickers, but in the middle of summer, I don’t think so). There’s more to do with setups and slashings than much else, story-wise. The large-breasted heroine screams at the most inopportune moments, especially in the climax. And it ends with a particularly uninteresting twist that didn’t make a lot of sense to me (though to be fair, that’s probably because it was a weak twist to begin with).

What else can be said about a film like this? It’s just a dumb, insipid slasher-movie with hardly anything to offer, except a subplot involving that character I mentioned above. She’s played by Anne Heche and she does give a solid performance. I want to know her story. Better yet, I’d like to rewrite the entire screenplay so that this admittedly-interesting story can be delivered in a much more involving way than it is now. I guess I give actors Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Freddie Prinze Jr., and Ryan Philippe credit for trying to make something out of their lazily developed characters, but they needed better material to work with here.

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