I Still Know What You Did Last Summer

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If Kevin Williamson’s scripts for Scream (1996) and I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997) operated as satirical critiques of white middle class privilege, then Trey Callaway’s script for I Still Know What You Did Last Summer is a celebration of that privilege and the might of the opulence that goes with it. I Still Know What You Did Last Summer dispenses with the moral complexity of the original in favor of a spectacle born out of the white middle class’ sense of entitlement. Working stiffs, People of Color, and just about every average person exists solely as fodder in the middle class’ fight for survival and ultimately supremacy.

I Still Know What You Did Last Summer is even less witty than Williamson’s original, leaving few pleasures for the audience as the protagonists evade murder at the expense of others. Director Danny Cannon, a veteran primarily of television, delivers some memorable kills inspired by the superior The Mutilator (1984), but for the most part Cannon seems to think that Jennifer Love Hewitts’ cleavage is entertainment enough to make I Still Know What You Did Last Summer watchable.

The biggest issue with I Still Know What You Did Last Summer is that every plot twist revolves around some well worn cliche’ that isn’t delivered with enough cinematographic ingenuity or performative authenticity to elevate the material. Supporting players such as Jennifer Esposito, Bill Cobbs, Jack Black, and genre mainstay Jeffrey Combs are all but wasted in their roles with not one of them getting enough screen-time. Combs in particular makes the most of his material but even he is denied the dramatic space necessary to add dimension to the material. The main reason this is so frustrating is that the leads are the least compelling performers in the movie.

Some of the worst written and directed slasher movies still retain the capacity to delight an audience and some even manage genuine escapism. I Still Know What You Did Last Summer negates this potential by means of its aforementioned politics as well as the fact that none of the leads are at all interesting. Jennifer Love Hewitt is clearly intended to be the franchise’s Neve Campbell but the material isn’t there to allow her to push the character into new directions. Freddie Prinze Jr. who also reprises his role from the first film is hardly a presence and when he is on screen he hardly makes an impression at all. Brandy is at least entertaining though the filmmakers opted not to let her sing in the karaoke scene.

As we celebrate Labor Day and bid another summer adieu it is only fitting to turn to those summer set horror classics as part of the national ritual. I Still Know What You Did Last Summer had all the promise to be one of these films yet, sadly, could not escape the shadow of I Know What You Did Last Summer. I suppose we’ll have to get by once again this year watching that glorious mess of a movie that is The Mutilator instead.