I Still Know What You Did Last Summer

I had to toss a coin to decide which would be less painful: Sit through “I Still Know What You Did Last Summer,” or shove a rabid pit bull in my shorts and then whack it with a stick.

I lost the coin toss, so here’s my review of “I Still Know What You Did Last Summer.” Of course, the proper response is “I still don’t care what you did last summer.” I imagine there’s a movie being made called “I Still Won’t Scream at the Urban Legends You told last Summer.”

The teenage horror flick, once a popular staple of the late seventies, is alive and well in the late 1990’s and we have one man to blame for the resurrection. Kevin Williamson. Oh sure, his screenplay for the first “Scream” was clever and breathed new life into the genre.

Unfortunately, Hollywood, desperate to jump on the latest bandwagon, doesn’t know when to leave well enough alone. No, it’s not enough to have “Star Wars.” We must have 2,000 clones. “Die Hard” was good. The 8 million imitations were not. Sometimes lightning does strike twice in the same place, but usually it is the sequel.

Making sequels to good films is one thing. Making sequels to bad movies that happened to make a lot of money is another. That’s why it was inevitable that a sequel to “I Know What You Did Last Summer” would arrive sooner than later.

Since “Friday the 13th,” film maker’s understood the value of not closing the book at the end of their film. Either make it ambiguous, or toss in a teaser that makes a sequel inevitable.

Everyone who saw the first “Summer” knows that the killer Gorton’s Fisherman didn’t really die at the end of the film, but just slipped off to a waiting room until it’s time to kill again.

By the end of “I Still Know,” you wish the killer had gutted the whole cast instead of leaving winsome Jennifer Love Hewitt and cocky Freddie Prinze Jr. alive to return for more murder and mayhem.

Okay, let’s play catch-up. Two summers ago (which makes the title of the sequel wrong), a group of four teenagers heading back from a beach party accidentally plow down a stranger on a deserted mountain road. Since they have their whole lives ahead of them, the teens decide to dump the body into the ocean and pretend it never happened.

A year later, all four teenagers gather for a reunion and start receiving death threats from a mystery person. Yeah right. Some mystery. One by one, the kids are slaughtered (and like that’s a bad thing?), leaving poor Julie James (Hewitt) and her boyfriend Ray (Prinze Jr.) alive to fend off the killer.

The killer, Ben Willis (Muse Watson), supposedly dies in a freak accident, which should be a relief to Julie and Ray. It’s not.

A year later, Julie is still having nightmares about the man with the hook who killed all her friends. No, not a Hollywood agent. Julie is now attending college in Boston, hoping a change of scenery will help her forget. When she’s not wigging out or hallucinating, Julie is hanging out with her best friend Karla (Brandy), and Karla’s boyfriend Tyrell (Mekhi Phifer).

Things pick up when Karla wins a trip to the Bahamas on a radio content, and invites Julie to tag along. Of course Karla is too stupid to realize that radio stations don’t call you, you call them, or that her answer to the question was wrong. Immediately the screenwriter puts us ahead of the characters, which is a big mistake.

Julie agrees to go, and Karla invites cute classmate Will Benson (Matthew Settle) to join them in an effort to cheer Julie up. The group arrives at the private resort, and are eventually joined by Ray. Then like stacked dominos tumbling, everything starts falling into place.

The resort is virtually empty, and the remaining guests leave when a Hurricane approaches. The gang tries to make the best of a bad situation, only to realize that things are going to get a lot worse before they get better.

In no time, people on the island start dropping like coconuts from a tree, leaving only a handful of people to face off against Willis, whose new hook for a hand makes a dandy killing device.

At first Julie’s friends thinks she’s hallucinating, but it doesn’t take long before the terror hits home. At least Williamson’s original script was interesting. The sequel’s screenplay by Trey Callaway is flat and boring. His idea of a good scare is having a cat jump out of the shadows.

Director Danny Cannon, whose last film “Phoenix” showed that he works well with film noir, can’t seem to kick start this mess. Oh sure, the production values look terrific, but the character’s do nothing but run around and scream a lot. They say and do things that only dumb characters in a horror movies say and do. At least the characters in “Scream” were smart.

Movies like “I Still Know What You Did Last Summer” don’t end. They just set-up the next chapter. I wish film maker’s weren’t so presumptuous. Let the audience decide whether or not they want another chapter. I guess since the original film made $70 million, the studio felt it was necessary to make a sequel. It wasn’t.



Jennifer Love Hewitt, Brandy, Freddy Prinze Jr., Mekhi Phifer, Muse Watson, Matthew Settle, Bill Cobbs, Jeffrey Combs, Jennifer Esposito in a film directed by Danny Cannon. Rated R. 101 Min.


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