The first movie to be released after Scream became a success and actually emphasizing on that success by having the same writer which means that the marketing department could go crazy advertising it as “from the creator of Scream”. Kevin Williamson cemented his name as the (slasher) script writer of that time by creating another successful horror franchise featuring a maniac killer. This time not wearing a ghostface mask, but dressed in a slicker and gutting his victims with a hook. As an added bonus we get a lot of (now) familiar names in the cast: Jennifer “Ghost Whisperer” Love Hewitt, Sarah “Buffy” Michelle Gellar, Ryan “Flags of our fathers” Phillipe and Freddie “She’s all that” Prince Jr.
When four kids drive home after a night of partying on the fourth of July they hit someone who was walking in the middle of the road. Supposedly dead, the four teens decide to dump the body and have a pact that this event shall never be mentioned again. Forward a year when all have gone on with their lives though some of them still have trouble handling what happened that night. When one of the four, Julie (Jennifer Love Hewitt), goes back home for the summer she receives a letter informing her that someone knows what she did last summer. Soon after that these four unlucky teens get a visit from a guy dressed up like fisherman and killing people with a hook, but not before he has stalked and tortured them first…
This is one of the better slashers to come out after Scream and became a success as well. It’s no surprise as the movie is well made and the four teens are attractive and can actually act. OK, so maybe Freddie Prinze Jr doesn’t but three out of four isn’t all that bad in a movie like this. While being a slasher the movie is actually low on body count as there are only a handful of murder in the movie, not counting the accident in the beginning which sets things in motion. The movie takes more time in scaring the victims than actually actually killing them. Other than a supporting character all the murders are done for the fourth of July a year later which takes place in the last 25 minutes of the movie. Before that it’s all build-up and a whodunnit as our heroes go on a hunt for the identity of the guy that is stalking and threatening them.
Despite being written by the same writer that wrote Scream I Know What You Did Last Summer is far less self-referential than the hit movie a year earlier was, though Murder She Wrote and The Silence Of The Lambs are mentioned. The movie plays it straight and goes for the suspense rather than a stack of bodies. Visually there isn’t a lot going on as the murders are not very visceral yet that adds to the suspense of the movie.
Story-wise the movie isn’t perfect, but what slasher is? Yet, at the end I didn’t really care who the killer was anymore and after seeing the movie I’m still wondering what his exact motive was. At one point, and this is the scene that was shown at the time in all the previews, the movie requires an extreme suspension of disbelief as one minute there is a corpse covered in crabs in the trunk, later on when the trunk get opened again it is crispy clean. Somehow the killer cleaned out the whole trunk and removed a body all in broad daylight.
Director Jim Gillespie does a good job a creating atmosphere and has put some nice shots in the movie including an impressive aerial shot over the opening credits. He also lets the camera love the curves of leading actress Jennifer Love Hewitt who is known for her rather large assets. Her type of clothing I’m not too lyrical about as she’s playing the somewhat a-sexual lead, which requires her to dress up in some hideous baggy pants. But then again this is not a fashion show and she does a good job at playing a damsel in distress, the same goes for Sarah Michelle Gellar as a beauty queen, but if she has to have a royal title it would be scream queen. The girl has got quite a pair of lungs.
I Know What You Did Last Summer is an entertaining movie which isn’t about gore but rather about creating suspense. It’s one of the better post-Scream slashers made and still holds up well. Too bad the story wasn’t as tight as it should be and not consistent with the motive of the killer who also attacked innocent bystanders and not just the people he wants revenge on.