Archive for the ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)’ Category


Distributor: Mill Creek Entertainment

Release Date: September 30, 2014

Region: Region A

Length: 101 min

Video: 1080P (MPEG-4, AVC)

Main Audio: English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD

Subtitles: None

Ratio: 2.40:1

Notes: Sony Pictures originally released a Blu-ray of this film in 2008. It has also been given a few DVD releases.

After Scream slashed its way onto cinema screens in 1996, the success of the film revitalized the horror genre…

Actually, it brought about a particular kind of horror film that this reviewer likes to call “horror-light.” It is the same formula, but it has been tweaked to better appeal to younger audiences. These films have a different aura to the horror films of previous generations. One of the better Scream-wannabes was I Know What You Did Last Summer (which was also written by Kevin Williamson). This isn’t to say that it is a masterpiece of the genre. It was simply better than most of the films to cash in on the success of Scream.

I Know What You Did Last Summer was an instant sensation with young audiences, and it did excellent at the box office. Critics were not so easy to please. One of the more favorable reviews was written by Richard Harrington of The Washington Post.

“It isn’t a Scream, but I Know What You Did Last Summer is another Kevin Williamson triumph, a smart, sharply drawn genre film with a moral center and a solid cast of young actors to hold it. Williamson, who crafted the cleverly parodistic Scream out of a genuine affection for horror films, here adapts a popular young adult novel by Lois Duncan, giving it a greater depth, dollops of impending doom and a bit more violence. And first-time Hollywood director Jim Gillespie shows a sure hand (or is that a fisherman’s hook?) with both cast and production crew in this very smartly mounted, sharply drawn feature…

…Smart like Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer adopts that film’s casting strategy, with perky Hewitt assuming the same crucial role her Party of Five co-star Neve Campbell did in Scream, augmented by the likable Gellar, star of the television series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Prinze, the son of the late comedian, is coolly effective, handsome in a Keanu Reeves-mode. Anne Heche does a fine turn as a weirded-out relative of the possible hit-and-run victim.

Director Gillespie keeps things moving and anxious, stylishly enlivening the inevitable chase-’em-down sequences, even topping one off in wonderfully Hitchcockian style. Also crucial to the film’s success are production designer Gary Wissner (Seven) and cinematographer Denis Crossan, who do spooky things with shadow, fog and fishing boats, and composer John Debney, whose foreboding orchestral score is far more effective than the de rigueur rock intrusions.” -Richard Harrington (The Washington Post, October 17, 1997)

Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly didn’t rave, but he was certainly kinder than most critics. However, his compliments were both condescending and laced with negativity.

“…Say this for I Know What You Did Last Summer (Columbia): If nothing else, it knows how to assault you as crudely — and efficiently — as its vengeful slasher.

By the end of the ’80s, teen-horror films, with their casts that looked as if they’d been recruited at a shopping- mall talent show, had descended to a level of ragtag ineptitude depressing to behold. (Believe me: I cut my critic’s teeth reviewing every last one of them.) I Know What You Did Last Summer is not of that lowly ilk; it attains a level of solidly mediocre trash competence…

I Know What You Did Last Summer was written by Kevin Williamson, who penned the allusively witty, genre-bending script for Scream. A lot of the young viewers who flocked to that film may well turn out for this one, eager for another dose of jump-out-of-your-seat thrills. That said, if you loved Scream not just because it revived the clichés of teen slasher movies but because it stood those clichés on their head, turning schlock trivia into suspense (and vice versa), becoming a pop-culture hall of mirrors … well, if you’re expecting another movie like that, look elsewhere. I Know What You Did Last Summer is nothing but a slick version of the kind of gruesomely formulaic who-will-be-the-next-to-die hack-’em-up that Scream took off from and, ultimately, transcended. The killer himself is generically scary (though his pranks with corpses are cleverly staged), and the story, by the end, has more holes than the bodies do. There’s no griping about the cast, though: Those slasher potboilers of the late ’80s would have been lucky to feature an actress as fetching and savvy as Party of Five‘s Jennifer Love Hewitt. She knows how to scream with soul.” -Owen Gleiberman (Entertainment Weekly, October 24, 1997)

Variety’s review was cast from a similar mold.

“…Just clever enough to rise above the usual fodder, its appealing cast and technical confidence go a long way toward paving over narrative and character lapses. Upbeat box office returns and brisk action in ancillaries loom…

As with his script for Scream, writer Kevin Williamson demonstrates adroitness at creating vivid young protagonists. Both a horror buff and a chronicler of contemporary mores, he struggles to mesh his two pursuits with fitful success, bowing to the demands of the genre at the expense of texture and resonance. Ultimately, that limits the pic’s appeal, and in the hands of tyro feature director Jim Gillespie much of the wit and playfulness of the exercise is further sacrificed. Gillespie relies on a cool, stylish technical facility to compensate for his apparent lack of connection to the characters.

The leads elevate their prototypes considerably, leaping over seemingly impossible dialogue to convey vulnerability and burdensome guilt. Hewitt and Prinze are particularly good, and Anne Heche is a standout in a supporting role as the hauntingly eviscerated sister of the hit-and-run victim.

There’s no question that I Know What You Did Last Summer is on target for its primary audience. Still, it pulls too many punches and takes too many dramatic shortcuts to maintain the meatier elements introduced at the outset. Its slasher sensibility lays waste to the more chilling psychological echoes that are the hallmarks of the most enduring horror movies.” –Variety (October 13, 1997)

Roger Ebert hated the film, and gave it only one star.

“The best shot in this film is the first one. Not a good sign. I Know What You Did Last Summer begins dramatically, with the camera swooping high above a dark and stormy sea, and then circling until it reveals a lonely figure sitting on a cliff overlooking the surf. The shot leads us to anticipate dread, horror and atmospheric gloominess, but, alas, it is not to be…

…And since the movie doesn’t play fair with its Fisherman clues, we’re left with one of those infuriating endings in which (danger! plot spoiler ahead!) the murders were committed by none of the above.

The ads make much of the fact that I Know What You Did Last Summer is from ‘the creators of Scream. ‘ That means both scripts are by Kevin Williamson. My bet is that he hauled this one out of the bottom drawer after Scream passed the $100 million mark. The neat thing about Scream was that the characters had seen a lot of horror films, were familiar with all the conventions, and knew they were in a horror-type situation. In I Know, there’s one moment like that (as the two women approached an ominous house, they observe ominously, ‘Jodie Foster tried this …’). But for the rest of the movie they’re blissfully unaware of the dangers of running upstairs when pursued, walking around at night alone, trying to investigate the situation themselves, going onto seemingly empty fishing boats, etc.

After the screening was over and the lights went up, I observed a couple of my colleagues in deep and earnest conversation, trying to resolve twists in the plot. They were applying more thought to the movie than the makers did. A critic’s mind is a terrible thing to waste.” –Roger Ebert (Chicago-Sun Times, October 17, 1997)

I Know What You Did Last Summer will likely never be considered a great film, but there are many people that will remember enjoying it during their childhood. Nostalgia is a very powerful thing.


The Presentation:

3 of 5 Stars

The Blu-ray disc is protected by the standard plastic casing with film-related artwork.

The menu is static with the same artwork.


Picture Quality:

4 of 5 Stars

The disc’s picture transfer is quite good. The image exhibits a reasonable amount of detail, and transfer handles black levels incredibly well. Colors and flesh tones are accurate, and the only issue with the image is a general softness that arises during certain scenes. This is only an occasional issue, and it might very well be inherent in the source.


Sound Quality:

4 of 5 Stars

The Dolby Digital soundtrack is quite nice as well. Dialogue is consistently crisp, clear, and center balanced. Music is given plenty of room to breathe. Ambience and sound effects are lush, and life-like. It is a truly nice track that suits the film quite well.


Special Features:

0 of 5 Stars

This disc is strictly “bare bones.” None of the special features that were available on Sony’s 2008 disc are available here.

The disc included a Feature-Length Commentary Track with Jim Gillespie (director) and Steve Mirkovich (editor), Gillespie’s Joyride (a short with optional commentary), ‘Now I Know What You Did Last Summer’ (a half-hour featurette about the making of the film), and the film’s Theatrical Trailer. If these supplements are important to you, seek out the Sony disc.


Final Words:

Fans of late-1990s horror (aka Post-Scream horror) will probably remember this film, and might very well want to grab this inexpensive disc for their collection. Die-hard fans (assuming that there are any die-hard fans) of the film might miss the special features that were available on previous releases.