Friday, July 24, 2015
I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER (1997)
Directed By: Jim Gillespie
Written By: Kevin Williamson
Based on the book by: Lois Duncan
Cinematography By: Denis Crossan
Editor: Steve Mirkovich
Cast: Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe, Freddie Prinze Jr., Johnny Galecki, Anne Heche, Muse Watson, Bridgette Wilson-Sampras
Adaptation of Lois Duncan's thriller about four teenagers trying to cover up a hit-and-run. Love Hewitt plays Julie, a high school senior who goes trip with her friends and accidently hits a fisherman. They think he is dead and dump him into the waters. But later they get a strange letter that says "I know what you did last summer."
This was screenwriter Kevin Williamson's next scripted film after the phenomenon of SCREAM that helped catapult not only the teen slasher genre to great heights and inspire a new interest in horror films. Breathing in a new oasis of interest back into the horror genre as a whole, but also focusing on a teen audience by having it star actual made teen stars like Sarah Michelle Gellar, Neve Campbell and Jennifer Love Hewitt. Who became stars on teen friendly television shows. Though interestingly gellar was the only one to continue in the genre outside of whatever franchise she was in. These films usually made the actresses into bonafide movie stars.
Kevin Williamson wrote this script before SCREAM, but was unable to sell it. Following the big screen success of his next screenplay, SCREAM, Columbia Pictures immediately bought I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER.
I Will admit to seeing this film in theaters 3 times. I was such a fan of it, though i will admit I was more of a fan of the film SCREAM as I told everyone I knew to go see that film when I think came out. This film seemed more disposable and common. It's entertaining and at times tries to be a kind of frantic character study as how the events changed and shaped the characters really except for Freddie Prinze jr's character. Who is the same before and after the incidents. Don't know if it is the script or him who seems to have limited range. Then against hat might just be a simple way of making him into one of the more obvious suspects once the killing begins.
That is one of the weaknesses of the film. Most of not all of the supporting characters are either suspects or victims no grey areas here. Even Brigitte Wilson-Sampras seems more like she will be intergal to the plot, but ends up being another suspect. It seems like her role was edited down as her presence seems to hint at more going on for her character in the story. in the end It doesn't matter and maybe that was the directors intention. I also don't know of it was the budget or the directors aim to kind of reinforce this malevolence in such a small town setting. As the film seems like brake pains to remind you this is no major city bit a small fishing town. The kills are the requisite surprising, violent only once truly thrilling as some seem more basic stage direction and Johnny Gaelecki's character dispatch seems staged more like dressing as there is no real reason for his dispatch other then eliminating him as a suspect. Only we know though the characters don't. Though allows The audience to push suspicion another character.
One of the cliches that starts here for Jennifer love Hewitt is that for her beauty and sparkly personality. This film begins the trademark of all her outfits having ample cleavage that distracts or attracts more of the male audience. Who might focus on that more teen audience Anyhing else and of course it works here in a teen film and is part of the plot and character even in HEARTBREAKERS, but it seems to have followed her even into shows like GHOST WHISPERER and THE CLIENT LIST where she is more noted for her assets rather then her talents which she does have. What was smart in her career is that though she wishes she would have shown them at least once in a role on film so they could have been immortalized while she was young. I believe it was smart she never did as this is what keeps some fans coming back. The imagination of them or their own ideal where as if they were revealed. There they are could be better, could be worse, could not measure up. Either way to the myth, the legend that only a few have been witness to in her private life.
Melissa Joan Hart turned down the role of Julie James.
I can admit as Sarah Michelle gellar was in peril. Party of me wanted to scream out and tell her to use some of her BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER fighting moves to defend herself in all honesty it felt the same way when she was in SCREAM 2. Here she kind of steals the show as a former beauty queen who is almost a forgotten memory in her despair.
While the film tries to stay as inventive as SCREAM. The film is smart to play by the rules in it's own perimeters and still manages to provide some scares.
It's still a treat to watch not as strong as I remember it to be, but one of the better slashers. That manages to stay clean and not be as exploitive.
Kind of wish they would return to the scream queen roots. As I miss Jennifer Love Hewitt on screen.
You pretty much know what is going to happen. It's fun for an exercise of the genre and with the usual results
Now i won't deny that what certainly helps the teenage male demographic other then violence is that this is the beginning of Jennifer Love Hewitt showcasing an abundance of skin and wearing flattering, revealing tops in lot’s of her roles. Which unfortunately kind of followed her most of her career as it seems while a good actress. What most focused on and how she was marketed was mainly due to the cleavage and I unfortunately for audiences never went nude or topless in any role though always seemed a possibility.
The film is unrelated to Lois Duncan's young adult novel. Though with a similar title imam sure helped build an audience who were fans of the book.
Lois Duncan has stated openly that she hates the movie, because the filmmakers turned her book into a slasher film. She especially detested it in the wake of her 18-year-old daughter's murder in 1989.
The film was criticized as being a SCREAM clone which Isn't that surprising considering it was written by the same screenwriter KEVIN WILLIAMSON. Though I think it is a lazy comparison as yes he creates a world where characters are usually young hyper intelligent and talkative with snapping dialogue and usually get caught up in horrific events with many film and pop culture references. Though in scream there was more of a meta dark comedy. Here while sown times funny the film plays more like a slasher film including the cliches and the fake scares. That seem more dramatic and desperate for the characters. So of course it will seem similar as it plays to the same sensibilities to a point. It also seemed to not only bring horror back as a genre but specifically the slasher genre. That can easily become labeled more of a thriller. I believe it all depends on body count, levels of violence (which this film has a more relaxed example rather then extreme) and main storyline. (After all is it just murders for murders sake. Some kind of revenge tale underneath, or does it revolve around an initial killing. Is it supernatural?) this film has great thriller elements that seem more organic then dreamed up as set pieces. Which sometimes can take one out of the film completely.
I will say the second half of the movie is more solid as that is where most of the violence and scares come into play. The first half is more story and a killing here or there to remind you what type of film it is, until finally the killer seems to have had enough of playtime and now it is time to get to work. While setting up a believe or slice of small town life. As it gets better since the characters supposed psychological toll from the accident and what they did after seems plausible, but hardly believable to the degree that supposedly it placed on them individually.
Max's Murder was added in re-shoots. It was decided that the killer, who remained mostly in shadows for the first half of the film, worked on a suspense level; but never provided a tangible threat to the main characters. The murder was then filmed to show the audience that, indeed, this character was a deadly threat to the four leads.
I can admit that for me scream and this film became a gateway drug into a horror obsession as before these films I was more squeamish and had seen a few. More on television in edited versions then the basic rated R cuts. So I kicked around the genre. The. After seeing how these films made me feel I. A theater the rushing emotions and the way they affected you. I wanted to keep having that feeling and be that enchanted by a film so that is what made me seek the genre out more.
This is a solid little film that seems like it was a bit misjudged by it's obvious marketing angle to teens. While the film serves them more as an spectacle. It doesn't mean older audience members or fans of the genre wouldn't enjoy it. Even if not one of the sterling examples, it is one of the better ones. That is smart yet nor as comedic and has more heart. Maybe not as well made and scary as some others like SCREAM, but it earns and deserves it's respect.
I mean the hit show PRETTY LITTLE LIARS has been running on a similar type premise for many seasons.
Aside from the characters names and the teens hitting someone with their car, the plot is almost completely different for the original novel. In the novel they did not hit a fisherman but a young boy who was the brother of one of Helen's new friends. In addition, No one dies in the book. Barry is shot with a gun but survives and Julie comes to a close encounter and was almost choked by Collie, the boys brother, but Ray hits him with a club.
The film originally had a different ending, where Julie James is chatting with Ray online, she gets the pool party invitation, and then another person starts a chat with her typing in, "I still know." Then the killer jumps out on her. This ending was used as a teaser trailer for the sequel.