Ooo-wee, SHOCKtober really has me wilding out! Look at me, after...disregarding? ignoring? avoiding?... it for 25 years *cough hack die* I watched I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998) because one reader out there calls it a favorite. I don't use the word 'hero' lightly, but I think we can all agree that because of this brave step I took, it certainly applies to moi.
1997 was the year of ascension of one Sarah Michelle Gellar. Though she already had a lengthy filmography and an even longer television resumé under her belt--not to mention a Daytime Emmy award--it was the trifecta of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Scream 2, and I Know What You Did Last Summer appearing in a single year that really catapulted her into the realm of bonafide pop culture stardom. I liked Scream, so I went to see Scream 2 when it opened. I liked Buffy, so I went to see I Know What You Did Last Summer when it opened. Though each film had some definite high points, overall I'd put both of them in the "eh, fine" category. The latter, in particular, felt very...young to me. I'm sure part of that is the fact that its roots lie in Lois Duncan's YA novel of the same name. But it was more the vibe of them: This was a new breed of slasher film, and the grit felt gone, somehow. It's the point where I mostly tapped out on slashers, in fact. And that's okay! It's also the point where other folks tapped in (some so hard that they end up writing books about it). It's the subgenre that acts as a gateway to horror for many a horror fan, and it's heartwarming, in its way, to think that some yoot out there is in love with Scream VI, no matter what I might think of it.
The thing I liked the most about IKWYDLS (even the acronym is exhausting to type, for fuck's sake, Lois Duncan) is perhaps what everyone likes the most about it, which is Helen Shivers's death scene. It's scary! It's exciting! It's sad! I say it's the best part of the movie not only because I am a Sarah Michelle Gellar enjoyer, but also because as someone whose last name is a verb, I feel a kinship with Helen.
But because my feelings about the movie--and, again, slashers in general--were decidedly meh, or maybe because Helen Shivers was not the returning Final Girl, I left I Still Know What You Did Last Summer to others. That is...until last night!
Julie James (Jennifer Love Hewitt), the returning Final Girl from the previous film, goes on a trip to the Bahamas with her best friend Karla (Brandy), Karla's boyfriend Tyrell (Mekhi Phifer), and...Will (Matthew Settle). Will has a crush on Julie, who is experiencing some strife in her relationship with fellow First Movie Survivor Ray (Freddie Prinze, Jr). Yes, Will is the new guy, played by an unknown actor, who doesn't appear on the poster. He probably has nothing to do with all the murders that start happening around the island resort!!
While overall a tepid, if harmlessly entertaining film, it's got a rather high-caliber supporting cast: Jeffrey Combs, Jennifer Esposito, and Jack Black (with ill-advised dreadlocks and blaccent!) all appear in sizable roles, and holy shit, it's John frigging Hawkes as Ray's pal? John Hawkes is the first person to die in I Still Know What You Did Last Summer? What a world!
If you really want to dig, there's some nuggets in there about trauma, courtesy of Julie, who is both survivor and secret-keeper. But mostly it's teens running place to place whilst all of the working folk around them are murdered. Even more than that, it seems designed as a star vehicle for Jennifer Love Hewitt, who not only gets the roving camera treatment during a tanning booth scene, lots of wet shirt action, a karaoke scene, and the honor of having her single (!) play over the end credits. I get it, she was going for a singing career to become one of those multi-threat-types. But you have to laugh resignedly at the absolute caucasity of having Jennifer Love Hewitt do karaoke and the end credits song while Brandy is right there. She's right there! Brandy! And she doesn't sing a note!
Well, here are my big takeways (aside from the blatant Brandy disrespect) with this one. The very end was very surprising! I wonder if it is at all acknowledged in I STILL Still Know What You Did Last Summer (or whatever the next one is called)? I doubt I'll ever see it...unless one of you calls it a favorite horror movie next submittin' time.Also this movie has a pretty great soundtrack (I'm not talking to YOU, Jennifer Love Hewitt)! Several groups I haven't listened to in forever, like Lamb, the underrated Esthero, and Great Value Portishead, aka Hooverphonic. In fact, it got me to bust out some CDs earlier, so if nothing else, I'm glad I finally checked this one out.