I Still Know What You Did Last Summer Movie Review

Movie Review by Anthony Leong © Copyright 1998

I Still Know What You Did Last Summer cast

"I Know What You Did Last Summer" was the darling of the fall movie-going season of 1997. This teen horror pic had a cumulative box office take of over $70 million, it far outpaced its closest contender, "In and Out". Given its runaway success and ability to bring teen audiences into theaters, a sequel was inevitable. And thus "I Still Know What You Did Last Summer" came to be. Is it as good as the first one? Is it hip and fresh? Is it scary? Unfortunately, the answer to all these questions is 'no'.

It is now one year after the 'summer of terror' in which Julie James (Jennifer Love Hewitt) and Ray Bronson (Freddie Prinze Jr.) saw their friends ruthlessly cut down by Ben Willis (Muse Watson), the homicidal maniac with a hook for a hand. The violent and terror-filled past is behind them, and life seems to have returned to normal, with Julie at college and Ray working the fishing nets back in Southport. However, Julie is still haunted by nightmares of Ben Willis stalking her, and the fact that Willis' body was never found does not make it any easier. And while Ray and Julie have remained good friends, Julie feels unable to commit to a relationship with her fellow survivor because of the bad memories that Southport holds for her.

The sullen atmosphere is brightened when Julie's roommate, Karla Wilson (Brandy), wins a trip for four to the Bahamas after successfully answering a skill-testing question for a radio contest. Karla decides to take her lascivious boyfriend Tyrell (Mekhi Phifer), leaving Julie to decide between Ray and Will Benson (Matthew Settle), a fellow student who seems to have a crush on her. Unfortunately, Ray is hesitant on going, unsure of his relationship with Julie, and Will ends up going along in his place.

However, Ray finally comes to his senses and decides to rendezvous with Julie as a surprise. But while in transit, he is stopped by the sight of a body lying in the middle of the road. When he gets out of his truck to investigate, a rainslick-wearing figure appears and Ray suddenly realizes that he has stepped into a trap.

Meanwhile, down in the Bahamas, the party of four check into the island resort of Tower Bay and soon realize that their dream vacation is not all that it is cracked up to be. With most of the vacationers and staff having left the resort already, a few hours remaining until the official start of the Caribbean storm season, an irascible hotel manager (Jeffrey Combs of "Deep Space Nine"), and no means to get off the island, the Bahamian getaway quickly loses its luster. To further complicate matters, Julie begins to see evidence that Ben Willis is very much alive and on the island.

Jennifer Love Hewitt

The original movie, "I Know What You Did Last Summer", wasn't that good to begin with, which does not bode well for its sequel. Admittedly, screenwriter Kevin Williamson's ("Scream", "Scream 2") script did create some decent suspense for the audience by keeping the identity of the killer a mystery. However, several implausibilities, lame humor, and hammy acting relegated this effort to being nothing more than 'Hitchschlock' slasher-fare that lacked the campy narcissistic pretentiousness of the "Scream" installments.

This latest installment does not fare much better, and in many respects, fares much worse. There are very few surprises or hooks in this outing, and the story seems tired and pedestrian. In addition to more hammy acting, lame humor and implausible situations, there is no mystery driving the story and the action unspools in a fairly predictable fashion. In fact, most astute viewers will probably be able to figure out the identity of the killer or killers within the first twenty minutes. The rest of the movie is a dated laundry list of your typical horror movie conventions:

Though Hewitt may be charismatic to the Baby Boom Echo, her acting continues to waver, much as it did in the original. And it doesn't help that she is saddled with a banal script where Hewitt's character feels compelled to say everything on her mind, as though the audience was too feeble-minded to figure it out for themselves. The rest of the cast is a collection of one-dimensional characters, but at least they're easy on the eyes.

If you're looking for chills and thrills, "I Still Know What You Did Last Summer" won't fit the bill. It's just ninety-six minutes of mindlessly-executed gore regurgitating what you've seen before.

Images courtesy of Sony Pictures. All rights reserved.

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