A couple of months back, I reviewed the 2000 horror movie spoof Scary Movie. Since then, I’ve wanted to take a look at the two films it was parodying. One of those was the popular 1997 teen slasher flick I Know What You Did Last Summer. It was clearly a big movie at the time. But was it actually any good? Let’s take a look.
I Know What You Did Last Summer stars Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe and Freddie Prinze Jr. as four teens about to graduate high school. One night they decide to drive out to a local beach to drink and have some fun.
And before we get to know these characters all that well, a tragic event happens that sets the plot in motion. While driving recklessly, the gang accidentally hits a man with their car and seemingly kill him.
We then get a mostly well-done, if not slightly rushed scene where the group tries to figure out what to do. They make the decision to dump the body and pretend it never happened to avoid getting in trouble.
This whole premise is one of the strongest aspects of the movie. It’s disturbing in an interesting way and it makes you think about what you might do in this situation. But the problem here is that the movie doesn’t really do enough with this concept.
A year later, in an likely realistic plot development, the teens’ lives are suffering from the guilt of the incident. None of them are successful in what they’re doing. They don’t speak to each other anymore. They’re just overall miserable.
But it gets even worse for them when Jennifer Love Hewitt’s character Julie get a note with someone telling them that they know what she and her former friends did last summer. So she gets in contact with the others and tries to figure out what’s going on.
As time passes, the person threatening them starts actually trying to physically harm them. The movie does some of this in a clever way. However, other aspects of this part of the story leave the viewer asking some questions that just seem like plot holes.
For instance, during one scene in the movie, the characters are standing around in a public place talking about everything that’s happened to them recently. And they don’t really seem to be trying to do it secretly. It’s like they don’t even seem to care about anybody finding out what they did, despite caring so much about it earlier.
Then there’s a plot point later in the movie where someone they know dies and goes missing for at least a couple of days. And at no point does anyone seem to notice.
You would expect at some point a line along the lines of, “Hey, did you hear [name] is missing? No one’s seen or heard from them in a couple of days.” But no such acknowledgement exists until the character shows up again already dead.
But this is a horror movie, right? So is it scary? Well, not exactly. It’s intense at times. And the story is definitely investing.
However, it’s just not really frightening in the usual sense. The director uses a lot of jump scares, most of them are what they call “cat scares,” meaning it’s just a cheap scare that turns out to not actually be anything scary. It’s only purpose is to make the audience jump for a moment and it can be very irritating.
As for other positives, the film does an effective job at conveying the helplessness our protagonists feel as they desperately try to figure out what’s going on and what to do about it.
We also get a solid twist ending that the script handled well. It mostly made sense, didn’t feel completely out of nowhere and I even noticed some hints at it during a second viewing of the movie.
Overall, the film is definitely what you’d call a mixed bag. I can see why it was popular as there is some genuinely good stuff. But there’s still a lot of story problems that make it hard to recommend. It’s just average.