Film Review: I Still Know What You Did Last Summer

Horror might have the cheesiest taglines of any genre. But I love them!

How about something lighthearted, like a good ol’ fashion slasher film on a Friday (somehow snowy!) night? I’m continuing the Summer series with 1998’s, I Still Know What You Did Last Night.

The film picks up one year after the events of the last film, with Jennifer Love Hewitt and Freddie Prinze Jr. reprising their roles as lovers, soon-to-be-married, Julie and Ray. What’s left hanging (puns!) from the last film is that the body of Ben Willis (played by Muse Watson), the fisherman killer with a trenchcoat and vicious hook, was never found.

One year later, though, Julie is in college with her friend, Karla (played by Brandy). Joining the gang are Karla’s boyfriend, Tyrell (played by Mekhi Phifer) and their friend, Will Benson (Matthew Settle). Will seems to be trying to “move in” on Julie while Ray is away. That makes him jealous. So, when Karla “wins” a trip for four to The Bahamas through a radio contest, and Julie asks him to go, he declines, leaving room for Will to come instead.

Of course, unbeknownst to Karla and Julie, somehow two college educated kids (just kidding, I suck at geography, too), their winning answer for the capital of Brazil was wrong — Rio de Janeiro is not the capital of Brazil; the capital is Brasília — and it was all a set-up to get them to The Bahamas, where the vacation spot has been largely rid of other tourists due to an incoming storm.

Also, what radio station calls you to see if you can win a contest? Usually, the caller has to be the one to call in. Come on, Julie and Karla!

Nonetheless, that’s the rather weak set-up and premise to the sequel. What’s difficult about setting up a sequel here is that the original film is a revenge story. For the most part, the killer is going after the people he seeks revenge upon and only occasionally killed those who got in his way (like the police officer). Here, there’s ostensibly one person for the killer to go after on the island (Julie), but the slasher demands a higher body count; ergo, you inevitability get away from the revenge thread, as the killer kills employees at the island who had nothing to do with the original wrong.

We have two new people at the helm for the sequel. First, Danny Cannon as director. Second, Trey Callaway as writer. Interestingly, Cannon would go on to do a lot of the CSI shows. As for feature films, not much in the way of that; his most recent flick was 2017’s Geostorm. Callaway apparently partnered with Cannon more because he’s also a writer for some of those CSI episodes.

I guess Callaway (or Cannon, or both) figured we needed another jerk male character like Barry Cox from the first one, so that’s the character Tyrell plays. He’s a total jerk, especially to Julie. Why not craft characters we care about? Thus, when they are killed off (or barely survive!), we are rooting for them?

Nonetheless, it turns out that we get a Scream-like twist with their being two killers: Ben Willis back again, of course, and his son, Will Benson. Get it? As Will says to Julie during the reveal: “Ben’s son.” He’s the son of the Fisherman.

Fortunately, Ray comes to save the day, leaving the door open (figuratively speaking) for Julie to shoot the Fisherman eight times into an open grave. Of course, they can’t help but tease us again with whether he’s still alive at the end, or was it another one of Julie’s nightmares? I think this one is definitely more of a nightmare.

Overall, the premise was quite silly with this one, and unlike the first one — where I actually switched my viewpoint from thinking I didn’t care for it as a youngster to liking it upon re-watch recently — , I remember liking this more as a youngster, and now, not so much digging it.

I’m a sucker for horror, so the tension scenes late in the movie with the Fisherman coming after those who were left were still fun, like Julie trapped in the tanning booth (Hewitt makes a great “scream queen”), or Karla trying to get away from the Fisherman, as Julie and Nancy (played by Jennifer Esposito) frantically open the door, with Karla escaping certain death at the last moment.

And they did a rehash of the scene from the first one, where Julie spins around in circles yelling at the Fisherman to come on, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?! kinda thing. I get a kick out of that passion.

Thing is, the sequel just screams, “We don’t actually have any ideas on how to keep this going, but we really want to cash in on the popularity of the first one.” Which, hey, I’m fine with, even if it suffers from losing the thread of the revenge plot, as I mentioned. Again, though, I love B-level slasher flicks. I could have done without the stoner Jack Black character and the aforementioned Tyrell, but it was still a fun watch.

Also, another issue with the film is that they fallback on the cliché, “Let’s split up!” dynamic. Grr.

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