I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998)
Directed by Danny Cannon
Cast: Jennifer Love Hewitt, Brandy, Freddie Prinze Jr., Matthew Settle, Mekhi Phifer, Jennifer Esposito, Bill Cobbs, Jeffrey Combs, Jack Black, Muse Watson.
1998 96 minutes
Rated: (for violence, gore, profanity, and drug use).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman, November 14, 1998.
So much for sweet returns. After smart horror films were starting to be made again after the exploitative 80's slasher movies, starting with 1996's "Scream," and followed by "Scream 2," "Urban Legend," and the original, "I Know What You Did Last Summer," a film like, "I Still Know What You Did Last Summer," was bound to be made sooner or late. It is a perfect example of the exact reason why horror films temporarily burned out, and that is because they reached for the lowest-common-denominator in filmmaking, favoring non-stop deaths and gore for suspense, and trading in fleshed out, likable characters for one-dimensional nitwits.
It has been exactly one year since Julie James (Jennifer Love Hewitt) suffered through the ordeal of being terrorized by Ben Willis, a psychopathic fisherman whom her friends and she accidentally hit in the middle of the road, and then, thinking he was dead, dumped him into the ocean. Since then, Julie has relocated to Boston University, and although often paranoid and haunted by bad dreams, she has been able to put her life back together. When Julie's friend, Karla (Brandy), is called up by a radio station and answers correctly what the capital of Brazil is, she wins a vacation to the Bahamas for four people, which also includes Karla's horny boyfriend, Tyrell (Mekhi Phifer), and Will (Matthew Settle), who Karla sets Julie up with after her own boyfriend, Ray (Freddie Prinze Jr., also returning from the original), doesn't show up. When they reach the secluded island, they discover it is the last day of the open season, and will be stranded there for the 4th of July weekend with a few employees to fend off a violent storm headed for them. Of course, Julie, her friends, and the workers aren't the only ones there, as the murderous Ben Willis, dressed in fisherman garb, returns to seek revenge on Julie once and for all.
It is a sad state of affairs when a movie like, "I Still Know What You Did Last Summer," is made. I am a very big fan of horror movies, and so it is especially disheartening to find out that this sequel to "IKWYDLS," which I am a fan of, is almost an exact replica of a "Friday the 13th" movie. While the original focused more on the story and characters, as well as genuinely suspenseful moments, thanks to the screenplay by Kevin Williamson (who didn't return to write the sequel, and it shows), "I Still Know..." has no story to speak of, and is so vacuous of ideas, that the filmmakers, were forced to have a murder occur every five minutes just to keep the audience interested. Also gone are any signs of character development, and since every single character died before I got to know them, all I was left with was to stare at the screen, indifferent to what was going on. While I cared about the fates of the characters in the original, it made no difference to me in this sequel who lived and died. They were all paper-thin and pointless, except to become victims to the lethal hook of the fisherman.
Another element that made the original so memorable were some superbly crafted set-pieces, like the store sequence with Sarah Michelle Gellar, but there are none to speak of in this sequel (although they do come close at one moment with Brandy). Since so many people were killed every couple minutes, the suspense and scares evaporated faster than salt in water. Also of note is the mystery of the second killer, and accomplice to Ben, but it is obvious from the first frame who it is, and so I couldn't even have fun at that, like I did in the "Scream" movies and, "Urban Legend."
It figures that just as slasher films were starting to get some recognition again, a film would come along and ruin it for everyone else. Maybe the people who made, "I Still Know What You Did Last Summer," should have realized that in order to make a good movie, you must have a screenplay---or at least one that isn't such a black hole for thoughts and ideas. The ending of the film inevitably leaves the door wide open for a third part, but judging from this amazingly lackluster first sequel, everyone involved should have quit while they were still ahead.
©1998 by Dustin Putman