Based loosely on Lois Duncan's novel of the same name, I Know What You Did Last Summer continued the 90's barrage of postmodern teen slasher flicks. The film was released hot on the heels of writer Kevin Williamson's box office success Scream and although he was still new to the scene it quickly became clear that this pony was already out of tricks. For horror anyway.
I Know What You Did Last Summer tells the tale of four high school friends who become trapped in the urban legend they talk about over drinks on the beach before running a man over in the road. Suddenly their lives take a sharp turn. Julie (Jennifer Love Hewitt) was ready for college, Barry (Ryan Philippe) had quarterback dreams, Ray (Freddie Prinze Jr.) was just a regular guy trying to make it and Helen (Sarah Michelle Gellar) had art star dreams for New York. Initially they presume the man dead, dump his body in the water and vow never to speak of the ghastly night ever again. One year later, a note arrives at Julie's house grimly stating, "I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER!" Suddenly the urban legend comes cruelly to life and a fisherman with a hook has a score to settle.
There just weren't enough elements in the film to make it come together for me. The acting is subpar at best, all the self-referential banter that made Scream fun was missing (minus a Silence of the Lambs comment)--replaced by Dawson's Creek jokes. Yawn. Director Jim Gillespie shows flashes of style but there's nothing groundbreaking where the visuals are concerned. Even writer Lois Duncan was displeased with the outcome and was apparently barred from the set during filming.
Roger Ebert said it best when he wrote, "The best shot in this film is the first one. Not a good sign." The movie opens with a dramatic helicopter sequence. The camera swoops along a dusky Northern California coastline while the stormy sea crashes violently against the rocks; all the while Peter Steele's bass voice rumbles to a lush, doom guitar. Type O Negative covered the Seals and Crofts song for their classic goth-ish/metal album Bloody Kisses. The original pop anthem was also featured in Dazed and Confused but Type O's version was the perfect compliment to a grand opening that ultimately falls short as soon as the talking heads enter the picture. As Ebert confirms, "The shot leads us to anticipate dread, horror and atmospheric gloominess, but, alas, it is not to be." Check out the opening for I Know What You Did Last Summer which features the Type O Negative song, as well as a video with the Seals and Crofts original version.