Following the success of Wes Craven’s Scream, the mid- to late 90s saw a surge in teen horror. These movies included neo-slashers (Urban Legend, Cry Wolf), thrillers (Disturbing Behavior, Teaching Mrs. Tingle), and even some sci-fi horror (The Faculty). Among the most successful of these movies not called Scream was I Know What You Did Last Summer. While it was obviously a knock-off intended to cash in on the success of Scream, it was a surprisingly big box office hit. One year later the sequel hit theatres to a dwindling critical response and a huge box office drop off.
One year ago Julie James survived the vengeful murder spree of fisherman Ben Willis. Now in college, Julie has struggled to move on with her life. Her relationship with boyfriend, and fellow survivor, Ray is strained. Her grades are in shambles. And nightmares still haunt her. To shake her out of this funk, Julie’s roommate Karla takes her on a trip to a resort in the Bahamas along with Karla’s boyfriend, Tyrell, and classmate Will. But Julie can’t escape her past and soon after arriving, bodies start turning up.
I Still Know What You Did Last Summer is a Rinse and Repeat Sequel
On one hand, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer has a decent cast and production values. Bottom line, it’s a far cry from the grimy VHS slashers of the 1980s. And it’s a watchable movie from start to finish. But that’s where the positives end. Writer Trey Callaway is no Kevin Williamson, and director Danny Cannon is a step below original director Jim Gillespie. As a result, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer is a sequel that recycles not only the basic story, but characters and, in some cases, specific scenes. This is a rushed, derivative, and lukewarm slasher that was clearly rushed into production. Once again we get a protagonist who knows something is wrong – the audience knows something is wrong. The sequel wouldn’t exist if something isn’t wrong. But we have to suffer through supporting characters doubting the protagonist while bodies pile up.
As a result, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer is a sequel that recycles not only the basic story, but characters and, in some cases, specific scenes.
Like most slasher sequels, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer ups the body count. Yet it’s too a muted effect. That is, Cannon fails to set up any effective scares or jumps – the slashing here is perfunctory. Throw in poor editing and the kills rarely live up to an R-rating and there’s certainly none of the elaborateness one expects from the subgenre. Too many scenes quickly cut away from the action. Even the finale feels undercooked almost as if Cannon ran out of time and money. Once again we also get another final ‘scare’ that’s only mildly and completely illogical, raising another problem with the sequel.
I Still Know What You Did Last Summer Has a Script That Needed Proofreading
No one expects slashers to present complex plots with strict adherence to the laws of the real world. Nevertheless, Callaway’s screenplay isn’t just derivative, it’s often wildly illogical. If you thought the hospital in Halloween II was oddly understaffed, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer welcomes audiences to the most empty tropical resort ever. Storm season or not, no resort in the Bahamas is that empty. In addition, Callaway stretches credibility to shoehorn more backstory to ‘The Fisherman’ for no other reason than to justify the trip to the island. Anyone who can’t figure out the third act ‘twist’ hasn’t watched many movies.
If you thought the hospital in Halloween II was oddly understaffed, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer welcomes audiences to the most empty tropical resort ever.
At the very least, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer puts together a capable cast. No, Jennifer Love Hewitt isn’t the most compelling Final Girl. And pop star Brandy is a long ways from her television series, Moesha. But both actresses are perfectly capable in their roles – the screenplay itself does them no favors. Maybe Freddie Prinze Jr. had scheduling conflicts, but he barely factors into the sequel. And Mekhi Phifer gets stuck rehashing Ryan Phillippe’s character from the first movie. In what’s probably the oddest bit of casting, Jack Black has a small role that feels at odds with the rest of the movie. Once again Muse Watson’s ‘Fisherman’ makes for a dull slasher villain.
I Still Know What You Did Last Summer Never Quite as Clever As Its Title
Whether I Still Know What You Did Last Summer is as bad as critical consensus suggests depends on your expectations. Yes, it’s a bad horror movie. And it’s also a bad slasher movie. In fact, Danny Cannon’s sequel is a bad a sequel to what was was a pretty middle-of-the-road original movie. Take your pick of relevant criticisms. There’s the recycled story, characters and entire scenes alongside scare-free jumps, contrived fake-outs, and an abridged finale. Jennifer Love Hewitt remains a weak Final Girl. Moreover, the story litters itself with tropes and lapses in logic. Though it’s watchable, I Know Still Know What You Did Last Summer hardly qualifies as requisite viewing.