I wonder if I should adopt a new rule or something for this little guy, now the longest-running feature I currently have on my page. Today’s selection is a movie my peepers haven’t come across in quite some time. And so now I’m thinking of all the ways these reviews might be more interesting if I choose films I’ve seen before (but some time ago) and then write something on them. See how my memory serves me, and how my gut reaction changes (if it does). While catching back up on films with recent watches certainly helps to put a fresh perspective on things, sometimes those first reactions we have are the ones we always will hold. Unfortunately, I think this method of reviewing will severely limit the number of films that I can talk about, given I’ve only kicked my movie-watching habits up in the last three or four years and my back catalogue isn’t much to talk about. Either way, look for some more of these kinds of reviews from time to time. You probably won’t be able to tell the difference. Then again, perhaps you will. 😀
Today’s food for thought: I Know What You Did Last Summer
Making 16-year-old prom queens slightly uncomfortable since: October 17, 1997
A horror film with not much in the way of a brain, I Know What You Did Last Summer managed to skate on a free-wheeling, fun-having charm all its own. Featuring several of the hottest (and I don’t necessarily mean as in ‘successful’) teen actors from the mid-to-late ’90s — I mean come on, this film was afforded Buffy‘s Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jennifer Love-Hewitt (who was then still up-and-coming), Freddie Prinze Jr., and a bright-eyed young Johnny Galecki.
Seems odd to introduce a horror film review with a cast whose collective star power has for the most part faded over the last decade or so but it occurs to me now that these highly-recognizable faces contributed mightily in helping this otherwise unremarkable slasher thriller achieve cult status. Hey, that was the best it could have possibly ever hoped for, anyway, right? And while our hindsight is still operating at 20-20, I might as well go on record and declare this film hardly instrumental in extending the success of Michelle Gellar’s career; there are two sequels to this film for any fan bored enough to entertain the notion, but these folks won’t find her in either of them.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer was her way out of this kind of purgatory. Then The Grudge came along and had other thoughts on the matter.
But in spite of failing to really impress critics of the day or finding legitimate popularity like cornerstone films like The Shining and the like — why do I have this creepy feeling that the $125 million this film made came out of the pockets of swarming debutantes and their jock boyfriends? — there’s always been something about knowing what these kids did that summer that actually makes for a perfectly pleasant viewing. Perfectly pleasant — yes, you read me right.
A group of teens go out to a popular hang-out spot to do that thing all teens do in the summer. . . study. Right. Yes, they go here and study. And when they’re done studying, they return safely in their cars and tuck themselves into bed quietly and cherubic. Except on this night; this night is different. When returning to town and having become somehow intoxicated (teens don’t drink, that’s an urban legend. . .) the teens swerve off the road and strike a pedestrian. After arguing over what to do about the body, they come to the natural conclusion that it should be discarded of in the ocean.
Hey, he had a life, some kids perhaps and a job to go to every day, but he won’t mind taking this one for the team. But the thing they don’t count on, you see, is this uncanny ability for this man — an apparently keen fisherman — to not stay dead. It’s a practiced skill and this fucker has got it. A struggle inevitably ensues, as these things often do whenever attempting to avoid being tried for manslaughter as a teen. And before the Croaker Pageant, no less! This is just the WORST timing ever. . .
If you have sat through this already, then you know the catalyst occurred fairly early and the bulk of IKWYDLS revolved around the teens trying to shake a mostly-unseen attacker who claims to have witnessed the events of their last trip to that private beach. And as they say, paranoia is not paranoia if someone is really out to, well, slash your throat with an ice pick. Predictable kills surely ensued, but what was less expected was how effective the threats were in actually dredging up some kind of fear in us, the spectators to this pretty poorly-written affair.
Former friends turned on each other try in desperation to figure out who this Mr. Letter-Writer Person is; former boyfriends/girlfriends turned exes — damn, the stakes are just so high in this movie. But we never came to this movie for the potential awards, we came for the killing. And that it does have plenty of. Okay, so maybe we came for the Croaker Pageant, too. That also does not disappoint.
Recommendation: If what you seek is pure entertainment, I’m not sure what you’re waiting for with this slightly-grisly slasher featuring a cast you are hard-pressed to find elsewhere. While not necessarily a staple of the 90’s, IKWYDLS is undeniable fun, a true guilty pleasure that tests the credibility of the age-old urban legend formula.
Running Time: 100 mins.
Quoted: “I got run over. Helen gets her hair chopped off, and Julie gets a body in her trunk, and you get a letter? Yeah, that’s balanced.”
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