I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)
Director: Jim Gillespie
Sarah Michelle Gellar/Helen
Freddy Prinze Jr./Ray
Muse Watson/Ben Willis
Four good looking teens run over some dude with their car by accident after a night of partying (they just graduated). Not wanting to ruin their futures, they dump the body in the water and vow to never speak of what happened again. A year later, they all receive notes stating: “I know what you did last summer”. The notes are only the beginning, it seems that somebody wearing a slicker and armed with a big hook is craving revenge for their crime. Let the games begin!
"Ooooou, I know what you did last summer? What a crock of shit."-- Barry
At the time (1997), the immense success of "Scream" turned screenwriter Kevin Williamson’s name to gold. He went on to pen this adaptation of Lois Duncan’s teenybopper fear novel of the same name, the movie raked in lots of cash and spawned an abysmal sequel. It is now 2003 and looking back at the 90's teen slasher trend that we had to digest, I can safely say that after "Scream", "I Know What You Did Last Summer" was the best of the lot.
Thankfully this one was mostly played straight with less references to other films than "Scream" (Angela Langsbury and "Silence of the Lambs" do pop up though). I guess Kevin Williamson was on sedatives when he wrote it. Who says drugs are bad? Now, although half neutered and watered down to appeal to the kiddies, this ride still had a lot going for it. First off, I loved the "accident" that launched the plot into motion, pretty fly idea for a starting point. Unlike your standard slasher, the way in which our teen hotties get into trouble alienated them from the rest of the world; they had nobody to turn to and they couldn't ask for help. That particular predicament upped the stakes of the narrative and the characters (where guilt and mistrust arose) and made it all for a more involving watch. I also adored the whodunit and mystery which kept me engrossed and had me guessing left and right like a cuckolded husband trying to pinch his cheating wife. FUN TIMES!
Character wise, this one hit the jackpot. Not only were the thespians here good looking, but they also knew how to act! WHO KNEW? That's a big plus and a rarity in slasher films. Apart from talent-challenged Freddie Prinze Jr, all of the actors were grade-A talent. Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jennifer Love Hewitt and Ryan Philippe are all capable and their well oiled acting chops coupled with the decent writing made me care about their characters. Philippe, in particular, stole the show for me as tough guy, rich brat Barry. The dude is like 5'6" and looks like an underwear model, but I still bought his "Jock" character due to his endearing mucho a-hole and aggressive demeanor. I actually identified with the character of Barry (yes, I'm a jerk) and that's always a big plus when watching a movie. He was me, but with better abs and a chick's mouth.
The film's villain, stalk sequences and torture scenarios were the next valuable assets on this flick's plate. The evil entity known as "The Hook Man" was straight out of American folklore and made for a spooky nemesis. Who knew that a fish realer could be so damn creepy? I'll never look at fish sticks boxes the same way. As for the nail biters in the shack, well, they had me grinning with the Sarah Michelle Gellar Road Running sequence being the highlight. Lastly, the inventive torture scenarios through which the killer put our teens were a riot. The Hook Man was such a tease! The man came up with a few doozies, which I have applied on girlfriends since. Thanks for the inspiration, Captain Hook! Anybody needs a hair cut? YEAH, BITCH! Try it on the one you love. Wrap all that horror loving in a hypnotizing setting (fishing town...so classic), deliciously somber cinematography and atmospheric directing and you get an entertaining and good looking movie.
Sure, the film has its faults. Implausibility is common in slasher flicks and this one pushed the envelope a bit too far at one time. Yep, I'm talking about the “body and crabs in the trunk scene”. What did the killer do? Use a vacuum cleaner? I DIDN'T BUY IT! Another thing that bothered me was the logic behind the murders. First off, the killer’s motivation is revenge against the wrongful teens. Why the hell does he feel the need to kill a few side characters in the process? That came across as gratuitous and low IQ. The flick also showed its gore at all the wrong places. When it was a side character it was "bring on the gore", but when it was a main character, they hid it. I got to know and care about the leads and not showing the goodies when they bought the farm, lessened the impact of their checking out. Should've done the reverse when it came to the on-screen violence. Lastly, when the killer got unmasked, I was let down. The film didn't really play fair with us in terms of its whodunit and took a more "ho-hum" route. I was still able to live with it nonetheless.
Overall, "I Know What You Did Last Summer" was a harmless, fast-paced and entertaining watch all around. Let's hook this one in and open it up…
Apart from a great hooking (some dude gets hooked under the chin…ouch) this one is like my last date…pretty dry. We do get a cut off hand though…ho hum.
Jennifer Love Hewitt (Julie) was the heart of the film and had no trouble communicating her vulnerability and strength. The camera loved her and her breasts too! YIPPEE! Sarah Michelle Gellar (Helen) also showed off her acting chops and her knockers via tight tank tops. Solid. Ryan Philippe (Barry) was a great asshole. His macho attitude appealed to me…it’s nice too see we still have male tough guys in the movies. Freddy Prinze Jr (Ray) gives us his worst Keanu Reeves impression. The man couldn’t act his way out of a kindergarten play and stuck out like a sore Camel Toe. Bridgette Wilson (Elsa) looked gorgeous…that’s it…not much of a part.
T & A
This one pulls a Salva. Us dudes get Hewitt and Gellar in tight tops, but the ladies get Ryan Philippe in a tank top, shirtless and they even get him wet with a towel around his waist. Yes, things are upside down here, the ladies get the tits, but we don't! WHAT KIND OF SLASHER IS THIS?
Gillespie opens the movie with a fantastic aerial shot and goes on to showcase his keen eye throughout the film. We get lots of overhead shots, tilted angles and (my fav) an upside down underhead shot of the killer. Gillespie managed to build some suspense and coat the film with mucho slickness (loved the strobe lights). Good job!
A very effective score (moody) and the occasional rock song (Offspring, Our Lady Peace). The end credits also had that “Hush" tune booming.
Distributor: Columbia Tri-Star
Release Date: October 17, 2003
IMAGE: The Widescreen image wasn't as sharp as I thought it should be, but was adequate nonetheless.
SOUND: The English Dolby Digital 5.1sound was on the level on every front. We also get am, English Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround option with available English subtitles.
Director's Commentary: What happens when you get a director (Jim Gillespie) and his editor ( Steve Mirkovich) together to do a commentary? It gets very technical. Although the interviewer (some dude tossing in random questions) tries to lead the director into talking about the casting and the script, Gillespie always went back to details on specific shots, camera set-ups, locations, props, what-not. An interesting commentary for anybody who wants to hop behind a camera themselves one day and yell "action".
Director's Short Film "Joyride" (10 minutes): A short film that helped Gillespie get Hollywood's attention and eventually nail the IKWYDLS gig. The flick is about a man who comes across another man on the road and winds up in the trunk of his own car. I'll leave it at that. This short was well shot, atmospheric and quite gripping. The director's commentary option that came with it also provided lots of trivia about the origin of the story, the low budget challenges and the casting, as well as comments about specific scenes and festival feedback. Good feature.
IKWYDLS Featurette (t~ 27 minutes): Cast (Anne Heche, Jennifer Love Hewiit) and crew (Jim Gillespie, Kevin Williamson) come in to talk about the book, the script, the casting and more! On set footage and clips from the film.
We also get: Photo Gallery, Music Video (Hush by Kula Shaker) and Trailers (IKWYDLS, ISKWYDLS, Charlie's Angels 2, Cruel Intentions, Darkness Falls, Identity, Jawbreaker, Urban Legend) and Filmographies.
Fans of the film will enjoy this DVD. It has enough EXTRAS and QUALITY to be worth the purchase.
"I Know What You Did Last Summer" didn't re-invent the wheel, but it didn’t break it either. They put this one in the slasher mold, upped the stakes of the situation, took out the nudity, toned down the gore and made sure that everyone looked like a Sears catalogue model. It looked sharp, moved fast, kept me guessing and most importantly...amused the hell out of me throughout. Whenever I'm feeling blue and playing with razor blades has lost its charm, I go back to this movie to rest my brain and pick up a couple of easy smiles. Easy slasher fun for the whole family. I wish I could remember what I did last summer...BURP!
Anne Heche has a small part in this movie.
Lois Duncan’s (who wrote the book on which this film is based) daughter was killed. She was found shot dead in her car in July 1989.