I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997) [REVIEW]


Some of you might be familiar with the phrase “one-two punch”, and not being a boxer, I think it typically means two successive things that accomplish what they were intended to do. If this analogy is correct, I’d say that I Know What You Did Last Summer was the “two” punch, with Scream being the “one”, when it comes to the revival of teen-oriented horror movies. Granted, basically every horror movie is intended for teens, but this one also happened to be written by Kevin Williamson, made famous for writing Scream and the television series Dawson’s Creek. I think I’ve seen parts of this movie hundreds of times, but that’s mostly because I had big crushes on Jennifer Love Hewitt and Sarah Michelle Gellar at the time, and after being surprisingly entertained with Urban LegendI was curious to see if this movie held up at all.


Leave it to the 90’s to find a way to make even Sarah Michelle Gellar look frumpy.


The movie starts with a guy sitting on a cliff overlooking the ocean, looking at a letter or some other sentimental thing that I can’t remember. We then cut to an annual beauty pageant where Helen (Sarah Michelle Gellar) is winning the grand prize, while she’s cheered on by her friend Julie (Jennifer Love Hewitt), her boyfriend Barry (Ryan Phillippe), and Julie’s boyfriend Ray (Freddie Prinze Jr.). After drinking and celebrating on the beach, the group leaves on a winding road when they hit somebody and presume them to be dead. THEY WERE WRONG! And they find out when they go to toss the body into the ocean and Helen’s crown is grabbed off of her head. They all swear to never tell anyone about the events of the night, which also results in them all going their separate ways, but there is an impromptu reunion of the gang of friends a year later when Julie receives a note that says, “I know what you did last summer!” I wonder if that’s where they got the name of the movie from?


Despite whatever my frustrations might have been in 1997, it was kind of impressive that there weren’t ANY ladies that got naked.


The harassment from someone who knows what the group did doesn’t end there, as Barry is almost run over, Helen has her hair cut off in her sleep, and Julie finds a dead body of one of her friends in her trunk. While pursuing leads of who they could have hit, they come closer and closer to the truth. Unfortunately, they can’t get to the truth fast enough and Barry is killed by a guy with a big hook who is wearing a fisherman’s slicker. Helen witnesses this and goes to the police, but the fisherman kills anyone between him and Helen, ultimately killing Helen as well. When Julie thinks she’s found out who they ran over, she goes to get Ray to help her, but that’s when she thinks Ray is the killer. She runs away and a guy comes to her help, which is when we learn that the guy we saw in the very beginning was overlooking a cliff where he had accidentally killed his girlfriend, and the girlfriend’s father was the one they hit. In fact, it was the father who killed the boy from the beginning and had made it look like a suicide, and that father is the one now trying to rescue Julie! Oh no! Ray and Julie are able to escape the killer, who gets his hand chopped off, and he falls into the ocean once again. A year after Ray and Julie escape the killer, we see Julie getting ready for a shower, when she sees that someone has written on a mirror “I STILL KNOW”, and a fisherman comes crashing through the mirror to obviously kill the shit out of her so there’s no way possible to be a sequel.


The disguise of “person in raincoat” was slightly more intimidating than in Urban Legend and its “person in winter coat”.


Maybe it was because I hadn’t paid any attention to the plot when I had originally seen this movie, but I couldn’t remember/predict who the killer was going to turn out to be. All of the clues that were being presented were leading you down one path of who the killer was, but then the story took that information and used it in a different way to keep viewers on their toes. Something interesting I read was that up until Barry is killed, no one was really that threatened physically, just the haircuts and being chased in a car. The producers agreed with that, which is why there was a scene shot after the movie was completed that showed Julie’s friend getting killed by the fisherman, so that way the audience had a reason to be concerned with the fact that this guy was willing to kill people. Had some of the violence been cut out, this movie could have easily been PG-13 and I don’t think the film would have suffered that much from it. Well, except I think Ryan Phillippe wouldn’t have gotten to swear as much and look like a little whiny brat.


Did anyone else find that Jennifer Love Hewitt only being filmed from above, looking up, wearing a low-cut shirt to be very creatively unique and visually compelling?

I don’t use the term “all-star” cast too frequently, and I’m sure as shit not going to use it here. I think a big difference between I Know What You Did Last Summer and Scream was that this movie was able to capitalize on its TV stars’ fanbase. Neve Campbell was the lead of Scream, but was still relatively unknown, as well as David Arquette, Matthew Lillard, and Jamie Kennedy. I guess they had Courtney Cox who was doing Friends at the time, but still, the majority of the cast was unknown. Jennifer Love Hewitt had been doing Party of Five and a bunch of other TV shows under her belt, Sarah Michelle Gellar had some soap opera experience and was kicking ass on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Ryan Phillippe had also been doing soap opera stuff. Even the friend who got murdered was Darleen’s boyfriend from Roseanne, also known as Johnny Galecki. As far as that whole “all-star cast” thing I mentioned earlier, I feel as though this movie started the trend of taking a hodgepodge of TV stars, so you already had a fanbase, and gave them the opportunity to act around one each other without the limitations of language, violence, or (implied) sex. Even though I already mentioned this movie could have just been a PG-13 thriller that kept your attention, it was the fact that there were those moments of violence and the fact that Ryan Phillippe was SUCH a dick and cursed so much that being rated R definitely helped this movie out. I don’t think it’ll go down as any sort of classic, but I think that in another ten years when all of those teenage heart-throbs are old and wrinkly, people will be able to look back and enjoy it at face value. Oh yeah, and since I normally fast-forwarded the opening shot to try to see Jennifer Love Hewitt more quickly, I never realized the opening had an awesome cover of “Summer Breeze” by Type O Negative.


Wolfman Moon Scale

Amazon Blu-ray

3 responses to “I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997) [REVIEW]

  1. Pingback: I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998) [REVIEW] « The Wolfman Cometh·

  2. Pingback: Top 5 des histoires effrayantes cultes, à raconter au coin du feu pour faire flipper·

  3. Pingback: Top 5 des histoires effrayantes cultes, à raconter au coin du feu pour faire flipper | BestBuzzer·

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