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I Know what you did Last Summer (1997) 

Written by Kevin Williamson Directed by Jim Gillespie

  Despite being based on the 1973 novel by Lois Duncan, the film adapted into an all-out teenage angst slasher flick opposed to a mysterious thriller originally written about the four main characters. Using the book as a beginning mold, it was given to Kevin Williamson (pre-Scream) to turn into what would become part of a new generation of slasher flicks. One meant for a ‘smarter’ audience filled with more twists and turns. Keeping all four character names as they took over Southport, California in order to achieve the Fisherman tone that they now decided would encompass the film.

High school sweethearts Julie (Jennifer Love Hewitt) and Ray (Freddy Prinze Jr.) were certainly more than excited to begin the summer with their other coupled friends, Helen (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and Barry (Ryan Phillipe). Starting off the 4th of July weekend with Helen crowned Miss Croaker and the rest of the festivities in their small town kicking off. Seemingly little that was going to get them down before heading to Dawson’s beach for their own celebration. Of which turns into a long drive down a winding road where Barry belligerently hangs out the sunroof, allowing just enough time to distract from hitting some-‘thing’ off the road. The object? A shoe, but where’s the foot?! Just up ahead as the four decide on devising a plan to get rid of the body due to the lack of resources needed to otherwise take care of a situation of this magnitude. I.e. A conscious, rich parents or simply the ability to just walk away. Would a small town in the 90’s really invest all their resources for someone (obviously) wandering too close to the roads.

Except while arguing as to who would help push the body into the water, no one wanting to get their hands dirty(er), the fisherman wakes up in their moment of hesitation and grabs a souvenir Barry would be forced to fish out. Making a promise to take what had just happened to their grave; it would be a whole year before we would see the four again. Reuniting on the island for what promised to be an even more eventful fourth then that prior. Julie receiving a note as Barry was stalked at the gym (in the book, shot and almost paralyzed). Helen losing her luscious locks and Ray receiving (wait for it)…a letter. Though residential Daphne (Julie) taking to the webs and gathering information on the man she believed they hit; David Eagen. Later investigating further with Helen as they go to his sister Missy’s (Anne Heche) house and learn about a note she believed indicated his death was a suicide. After involved in a car accident two years prior that ended up killing his girlfriend Susie Willis, it seemed he wasn’t the only one that blamed himself. Soon enough discovering it had been the father of Susie (Ben) that threw David from the cliff, hit by the oncoming car later attempting to cross the street. Maintaining his tone of revenge by finding ways to torture the four who attempted to leave him for dead. Because only canceling one crime out with another would be perfect serial killer logic.

Though in the end only Julie and Ray remain as an unfortunate situation (like trusting a complete stranger when a killer is on the loose) lands her on Ben Willis’ boat. Why she didn’t just jump into the water was always a little beyond me. But Ray makes his way on and begins fighting it out; bodies popping up all throughout the cabin. Given one last try to kill Julie, the fisherman’s hand gets caught within a net and Ray’s able to pull a lever which surges him into the water, leaving only a hand clutching a hook behind.

Though the story of revenge isn’t as convincing then some of the other films circulating at the time, perhaps its the lack of presence from the antagonist that ultimately worked against the film. On the commentary its stated how the scene where Max dies was added in due to wanting to enforce the dominant presence of the fisherman. Though a little brutal of a death scene, certainly a favorite from the film. But it was needed because otherwise its with only 30 minutes left in the film do people even start dying and at that due to classic mistakes that make you certain they’re going to die anyway. You never stop to look behind you, if someones screaming ‘he’s gonna kill us’ you might wanna run to go lock that door and never leave yourself in a big open space as though not serving yourself on a platter. With the last twenty minutes falling apart entirely Julie finally discovers whats going on yet decides to abandon all logic once in Ray’s presence. As she’s presented with a (hilarious) shrine dedicated to what all four have been doing the past year (but mostly that weekend) and finally realizes the error of her trusting ways.

The casting choices, while perfect for the time, I feel don’t hold up. Besides the fact that there are already two members of what would later be Mystery Inc. present in here, it feels terribly like a darker sequel for the gang, with an entirely more aggressive Shaggy. Which is not to entirely take away from the cast, special mention to Johnny Galecki (Max), who was a fantastic red herring. When first introduced he’s treated in a manner that alone merits revenge. To then see how much his demeanor changes with the films progression definitely made him one of the more compelling characters to watch. Sarah Michelle Gellar also was fantastic. Even though you wanted to personally slap her around her making all these crazy mistakes that ultimately get her killed. Who stops when they’re really that close to safety? With a lovely cameo from Bridgette Wilson-Sampras as Elsa, the snotty sister too hung up on her hatred, thus ultimately getting herself killed as well. Though never been a huge Prinze fan, I frankly find him too easy to make light fun of so will just leave such as that. Leaving Hewitt, whose beauty transcends any decade and someone I’ve always found adorably sexy. However, I do wish that the character of Julie was portrayed in a stronger manner throughout the two films. The girl can scream, but that’s a different series all together.