I Know What You Did Last Summer
Reviewed by Nicholas D'Amico
Rating: 9 Beans
ince I loved "Scream", when I heard that Kevin Williamson had written another horror movie, I wanted to see it. The fact that Jennifer Love Hewitt and Sarah Michelle Gellar (a couple of certified hotties in my book) were in it just made me want to see it that much more. I figured that since Williamson pretty much turned all the usual horror movie cliches on their ears in "Scream", he probably did the same here.
I guess he wrote this crap before he got the idea for "Scream".
"I Know What You Did Last Summer" opens with a helicopter shot of the coast of (I guess) New England, to the lovely strains of a heavy-metal version of Seals & Croft's "Summer Breeze", which was a sucky song to begin with, and sounds that much worse with a fuzz guitar and some loser belching the lyrics like he was on Valium.
Speaking of losers, who is that sitting on the edge of a cliff, staring forlornly off to the sea and drinking a beer? Some guy with an "I Love You" medallion, so we know he lost someone close. Fireworks suddenly go off, and we find out that the 47th annual Croaker Festival is in full swing. Clever touch, there. The Croaker Festival. This is the point I knew I was in trouble. Actually, I knew that when I heard the heavy metal version of "Summer Breeze", but I decided to give the movie a chance. Stupid me.
Inside the Southport Community Theater, the Croaker Queen beauty contest is in full swing, and this is where we meet the main characters: Julie James (J.L. Hewitt), Helen Shivers (S.M. Gellar), Barry Cox (Ryan Phillippe), and Ray Bronson (Freddie Prinze, Jr.). Helen is one of the contestants, and as she gives a trite "How I plan to improve the world through my acting ability" speech (hopefully by not doing movies like this one), Barry (who's wearing a tennis sweater, so you know he's rich) and Ray sit in the balcony watching and making cracks about her breasts while Julie makes P.C. protests. After Helen wins the contest, they all go down to party on the beach with the rest of the townsfolk, and we meet Helen's jealous sister Elsa (Bridgette Wilson, another hottie) and Max (Johnny Galecki), who has a boner for Julie. He's interrupted by Barry, who immediately comes off as one of those rich dickheads everyone wanted to beat the shit out of back in high school. He starts hassling Max and Ray breaks it up, showing that he's a nice guy.
Later, at the beach, the four of them are sitting around a campfire on the beach, arguing about what the correct version of the tale of The Hook is (A little foreshadowing here. How clever.) They split up and the couples sit, discuss their plans for the future, and hump each other. When they finish, the four of them pile into Barry's car (Ray drives since Barry's drunk) and when Barry spills his whiskey all over Ray, confusion ensues and they run over some idiot standing in the middle of the road. At first, they think they hit a deer, but when Julie finds a boot with blood on it, they realize they hit a human. We never really get a good look at the victim, but he's dressed like the loser on the cliff and has a tatoo. Julie wants to call the police, but the other three browbeat her into covering the accident up. From the ensuing discussion, it would seem that accidental vehicular homicide is a death penalty offense in whatever state this takes place in, so they decide to dump the body in the sea. While they're hiding the body, Max pulls up and stays just long enough to prove that he's an asshole as well.
The four of them take the body out to the dock and, after an argument, decide to throw him in. The body suddenly springs to life (just the first in a series of cheap scares in this film) and grabs Helen's crown before finally falling in. Barry, after diving in the water to retrieve it, starts shrieking like a madman, swears everyone to secrecy ("We take this to our graves!"), and they take off.
One year later, Julie is in college, suffering from delayed stress syndrome. She goes back home for the summer, but is so whacked out that she can't hug her mother or eat, and she's also flunking out of college. A letter comes for her, no return address, no stamp, and when she opens it, it contains a note that says, "I know what you did last summer!" Julie broods about this for a while and then decides to track down her former cronies. Much to her shock, she finds that Helen didn't succeed as an actress in New York and is working the cosmetic counter at the family store and that she and Barry broke up, as have Julie and Ray. When they go to see Barry, it turns out that he's still a dickhead. Julie identifies their victim as David Egan, since the other two apparently don't read the paper. Barry, rocket scientist that he is, figures that Max must have sent the letter, so he goes to the docks and threatens him. While there, they run into Ray, who's now a fisherman. After Barry and Helen leave, Julie and Ray discuss the vagaries of fate while Max is being killed (for no reason at all) by the note sender, who uses an ice hook and wears a black slicker and rain hat. Why he kills Max is beyond me, since Max had absolutely nothing to do with the accident, but this is, after all, a horror movie, so I guess someone has to die.
Meanwhile, Barry is being stalked at the gym. When he discovers his jacket is missing, he goes outside just in time to see someone take off in his car. Assuming it's Max, he chases after the car, only to have whomever is driving it turn around and push him through a building with it. No one notices this, of course, so when the Slicker Man exits the car and menaces Barry with the ice hook, we figure Barry's finally had it. Unfortunately, Barry survives, so when he and the other three meet in his hospital room, they decide to stick to their pact.
Afterwards, Julie and Helen do a little research and find out that David Egan was engaged to a local girl who died in a car accident two summers before. They drive out to the Egan place and meet his sort-of creepy sister, Missy (Anne Hecht). On the pretense of calling a tow truck, they find a black rain slicker. Missy seems friendly enough, but since she doesn't wear makeup, she's immediately suspect. While talking, the girls discover that a "friend" of David's, Billy Blue, stopped by the Egan place soon after David's death. While Julie and Helen discuss guilt back in the car, we're treated to another cheap scare when Missy brings them the pack of cigarettes they left in the house. This is really odd, since neither one of them smokes.
That night, after Helen and Elsa share another cheap scare and a pathetic argument about the former's hair, the Slicker Man skulks into Helen's house and cuts her hair while she sleeps. Proving how ruthless he is, he doesn't do a good job. He also writes the word "Soon" on her mirror.
When Julie goes to see Helen the next day, she hears a scratching noise from the trunk of her car. When she opens it, she finds the dead body of Max inside with crabs crawling all over it. When she comes back with Barry and Helen, the body, the crabs, and everything else is gone. This is on the side of the road in broad daylight, mind you. When Ray shows up, Barry the asshole figures out that he's behind the whole thing and punches him out. When cooler heads prevail, Julie decides to do a little follow-up work on Missy while Helen and Barry decide to go to that year's Croaker parade, where Helen is appearing as last year's beauty contest winner, and Ray does… something. During the parade, the Slicker Man keeps showing up, doing the Michael Myers bit and giving Barry the opportunity to act like a macho dickhead a few more times.
Meanwhile, Julie goes to visit Missy again with the yearbook. After yet another cheap scare, they talk while Missy guts fish. She tells Julie that her brother committed suicide and shows her a suicide note written in the same handwriting as the note Julie received that reads, "I will never forget last summer." When Missy takes umbrage at the suggestion that her brother didn't commit suicide after all, Julie realizes that the person they hit wasn't David but someone else.
While Helen relinquishes her crown at the beauty pageant, Barry, who's watching from the balcony, FINALLY gets killed by the Slicker Man. Helen sees the whole thing from the stage, but of course no one else does, even though the theater is packed. When the Sheriff investigates, there's of course no trace of any wrongdoing. He takes Helen home, stopping briefly to get killed by the Slicker Man, and Helen, after a not exciting chase through the family department store (where sister Elsa bites the big one) finally gets the hook about two feet from the main street, where a parade is in progress.
Julie, meanwhile, finds out that David's intended is survived by her father, a local fisherman. She seeks out Ray and finds him on the fishing boat he works, the "Billy Blue". Dun-Dun-Dahhh!
Vaulting to the wrong conclusion, she runs straight into the arms of the real murderer, Ben Willis (Muse Watson). After a little lecture about drinking, driving, murder, and making sure your victim is dead, he starts stalking Julie around his boat, which he's taken out to sea. Not to worry, though, as Ray is in hot pursuit in a speedboat. After the usual chase where Ray gets his ass kicked after being distracted by Julie, Julie finds the bodies of most of the madman's victims, and the HALLOWEEN cliche of the murderer coming back to consciousness after being knocked out, Ben finally corners Julie, only to get his hand tangled in a rope. Ray does something to the rope and Ben gets hauled up to the mast, where his hand gets cut off in the pulley, then falls overboard. Ray and Julie get back together, Ben's body disappears, and Julie goes back to school. While taking a shower, she sees the words "I still know" written on the shower glass. A figure in a black slicker and rain hat bursts through the glass, Julie screams, and that's it.
For all the praise heaped upon Kevin Williamson for his original ideas, IKWYDLS is one of the most cookie-cutter films I've ever seen. The cheap non-scares come at a frightening rate (just about the only frightening thing in this movie), the soundtrack sucks, the characters are all unlikable, the direction is tepid at best, and the whole thing is based on a stupid, unbelievable premise. I mean, what the hell is so scary about being stalked by the Morton's Fisherman?? A friend of mine gave me this on DVD as a present, so I have the additional pleasure of listening to the no-talent director pontificate on how to make a shitty horror film. It must have killed at the box office, because a year or so later we were graced with the sequel, the imaginatively titled I STILL KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER. Stay tuned. I just saw that one and a review is imminent, right after I get over the dry heaves.
Other reviews for this movie:
Ken M. Wilson
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