Some people may find this controversial but I kinda prefer I Know What You Did Last Summer to Scream…
OK calm down and let me explain…
Kevin Williamson owned horror in the late 90s. His name was attached to the scripts for Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Scream 2, The Faculty, Halloween H20… it goes on. In 96 when Scream came along it did a clever thing. It tapped into the zeitgeist and let the audience laugh at horror, in particular slasher movies, in a way they’d only ever done behind the genre’s back. Now they could sit munching their popcorn whilst the characters onscreen spewed out smug, self-referential dialogue and boy did we lap it up.
But go back and look at them now, when the fad for laughing at horror has passed, and you have a problem. The characters in Scream and many of its successors come across as cocky, pretentious know-it-alls who’s ‘meta’ arrogance is painfully dated. You see once you’re done patting yourself on the back for being so clever… you still need a good old fashioned horror story. And that’s what you get with I Know What You Did Last Summer.
So why do I prefer it? Well…
- The Setting. Small American coastal town prone to fog, deserted streets, and the creak of trawlers bobbing about in the bay;
- The premise. Simple. To the point (horror). Four teens with a guilty secret – they ran someone over a year ago and now somebody is out for revenge;
- Sarah Michelle Gellar. She’s the star draw for this film. The actual scream queen. Jennifer Love Hewitt is laughable as the heroine, Julie. I mean whoever told that girl she can play virginal needs their head examined. Dressing her like she’s Amish just makes her dull. She pales into the background. I realised that I can’t remember anything about the movie once Sarah Michelle Gellar’s character bows out. In an extended chase scene, Helen Shivers – a scream queen name if ever there was one – screams her little heart out but comes across as plucky and resilient as opposed to boring and weak. And she wears a tiara;
- Ryan Phillippe’s abs. And dog-tags. He looks like he’s auditioning for Active Duty. If only he had;
- The Fisherman. In the old tradition of slashers this dude never breaks a sweat and he ALWAYS catches you. Not like Ghostface, running around like a headless chicken, falling over every two minutes;
- The score. It’s not by Marco Beltrami. Win!
Of course it’s not a perfect movie either. There could be more gore. Helen’s cunty sister could have more screen time and a more extreme, deserved death. But as PG-13 Point Horror goes, I Know What You Did Last Summer ticks my horror boxes more than Scream and its increasingly annoying sequels.
Most of all it doesn’t irritate me. And for that I’m grateful! Do you want to slice me up with a hook or do you agree? Let me know on twitter. Get me at @jonnylarkin !