Friday, September 17, 2010

Review: I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)

Director: Jim Gillespie
Starring: Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe, Freddie Prinze Jr.

"We're going to go home now and never ever under any circumstances known to God- speak about this again. Is that clear? It's now a future therapy bill."
-Barry, referring to the creation of this movie afterward (may or may not be taken out of context)

The scene is set: a director’s board meeting at Hollywood. Fat old guys with huge cigars in their mouths lean back and try to cover up the sweat stains under their hairy armpits. They bring up a PowerPoint of old slasher movies as they try to figure out how to market them to a younger demographic and make wads of money. “Hm,” says one of them. “I know! Let’s take a standard slasher movie plot, uselessly complicate every bit of it, add in a bunch of attractive young stars who will make up for the fact that they can’t act with the fact that they have nice boobs, and remove all logic and reasoning. Yeah! That’ll do it! There’s NO WAY this won’t be a hit! We’ll rule the world!” Cue evil laughter here. Bam! I Know What You Did Last Summer.

The movie starts off with an absurdly long and drawn out opening credits sequence where we just see a picture of a scenic beach side at night for a few minutes as the camera moves along the road. Uh…riveting? Seriously, hurry it up; we don’t need to spend five hours watching a goddamned beach, movie. Wait, what’s that? They needed to pad the movie out so it would look like they had more material than they did? Oh, well okay then.

Okay, so we finally start the film as we see Sarah Michelle Gellar playing Helen, a character who has just won a beauty pageant. Her friends Julie, Barry and Ray, played respectively by Jennifer Love Hewitt, Ryan Phillippe and Freddie Prinze Jr., stand in the balcony and make insipid conversation to create more filler for the movie. Jennifer Love Hewitt's character is even named 'Julie Jane'...yeah, doesn't that sound kind of like a fake alias created to hide from the mob or something? Then we cut to later on as the four of them are hanging out on the beach at night, barefoot, smiling and sharing all the high school memories you wish you had with your own friends. They tell some ghost stories and argue about lore in which a guy with a hook kills people, getting mixed up on the specifics of the story. I mean honestly, movie; if you can’t decide the exact back-story that will later become ironic when the real killer uses the same methods, you’re going to have a real problem hooking in an audience. Just saying. Ray lures Julie out away from the other couple and they have sex on the beach.

Gasp! Premarital sex! YOU HEATHENS! YOU’LL BURN FOR THIS! How dare you enjoy yourselves, learn things about your bodies and gain experience in life! A POX ON YE ALL!

Ahem. Then they start driving again and Barry acts like a big douche, distracting Ray as he’s driving, causing him to hit a guy walking on the road. They get into an argument that would later be ripped off word for word in the Sorority Row remake as they try to figure out what to do with the guy’s body, eventually deciding to just dump him in the water. Barry threatens them if they want to go to the police, even going as far as to grab Julie by the neck and threaten her with bodily harm – her boyfriend Ray just stands there and does nothing; what a wonder they’re broken up in the next scene!

Yes, we then fast forward an entire year to Julie at college. Her roommate comes in and tells her it’s time to go, to which she responds with this look:

Ha! Sheesh, that’s tacky. What, they really thought that was intimidating? Pfft…so that scene was apparently completely pointless as we then see them driving home, which we could have just opened on instead. Julie goes inside and acts mopey – because I guess she still hasn’t learned to cope with the apparently horrible thing she took part in even after a whole year away from home - until her mom tells her she has a letter from someone. She opens it and ooh, it says ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer’! Witness the birth of a trite and played out pop culture reference, people.

So now they’re paranoid. Julie talks to Helen, who is now working at a clothing store with her sister full-time and not doing anything else, and they go to find Barry, who has turned into a walking stereotype of a white tough guy, even more than he was before. Seriously, he struts around like a wannabe rapper, his hair is so gelled up it never moves in the wind, he wears sunglasses and he pouts like a five year old. What a douche. They go to find this guy who drove up for like a second while they were hauling the body out and Barry threatens him for no reason. They then meet up with Ray, who is coincidentally a fisher working in the same docks. Because I guess everyone from a year ago is now working as a fisherman, aren’t they? That makes sense.

Blah, blah, they have a sappy and poorly written love scene and she runs off before they can finish. Later on at night Barry is going home when he is attacked by a car that runs him through a wall after an extremely silly game of car-to-human chicken. The next day in the hospital he consults with Julie and the others and demands that they NOT call the police. Wait, so…a guy gets run through a fucking wall and is found alive, yet the police never asked him any questions? Nobody even thought to tell them about it? What, did they just assume Barry was clumsy or something and figure it wasn’t worth investigating further? GO TO THE POLICE, you fucking idiots! It will make everything easier!

But no, the writers just thought this movie deserved to go on longer, so now we get some actual back story as we find out that the man’s name who they killed was David Egan and that he was blamed for the death of his girlfriend two years previous, before he disappeared to commit suicide over it. Then the killer breaks into Helen’s house at night and…cuts off parts of her hair. How horrifying! I’m shaking in my boots over here, I tell you. Then we see the present he specially made for Julie in the back of her car:

Truly this guy means business. Nobody has ever cut hair so menacingly!
Max is feeling very crabby today, as you can tell.

Yeah, and then it’s gone when she tries to show Barry and Helen. How? Why? I don’t know, the movie never bothers to explain any of it! You know, that doesn’t make it scarier, you guys. Just stretching the limits of plausibility doesn’t make the movie more tense, it just makes it a lot dumber. So after that everything starts falling apart as Barry confronts Ray about the whole thing and blames him for it…even though that doesn’t make any sense, since it's so obvious Ray doesn't really have anything to do with the whole thing. Oh, fuck it, I don’t even care anymore. Let’s just wrap this up quick.

So they split up and Helen and Barry have to go to this parade thing for a beauty pageant, where Barry is killed and Helen is taken in by the most cynical small town cop ever. Even though this would probably in real life be something interesting for him to do being a small town cop and all, I guess the movie thinks it’s better for him to be a complete moron and disregard everything she says, treating the whole thing like a silly joke until he gets killed by the killer himself. Have you noticed that the killer in this movie is just lame? He doesn't look threatening at all. It's just some moron wearing a coat and a fisherman's hat. That's not scary; it's more like something you'd see in a Lifetime movie. It's just not that intimidating. I’d also like to note that he would not have been killed if Helen hadn’t screamed at him from the car and told him to look out. Nice going, honey. Nice going.

Then she hides in the shop with her sister and they split up while her sister is killed. The killer somehow maneuvers around the entire store without noticing her, hides the body somewhere and then covers himself with tarp and pretends to be a mannequin, waiting for her to come out to exactly the right place before he jumps her. She gets away and runs down an alley until he catches up again, and they grapple until she’s finally killed…okay, two things: One, what the hell is the logic of hiding and waiting like that? Couldn’t he just have attacked her like he did the others? And two, how the hell did she fight back so much? The killer has already picked off people who are probably more able than she is, so what the hell? This movie’s plot has more holes than a Cenobite's face!

So Julie and Ray meet on the docks and they’re confronted by the real killer, who for some reason decided it was the right time to reveal his face to them. They fight a bit and he even traps Julie on a boat where he intends to kill her, I imagine. But again, why doesn’t she just jump off the damn boat? Oh well, she and Ray finally beat him and cut off his hand in the end anyway. It’s revealed that he was Benjamin Willis, the father of David Egan’s girlfriend who was killed in a car accident while David was driving, at the exact same place where Julie and friends hit him a year later. Benjamin blamed David and waited a year to go and kill him, even though he was already out there on the same night about to kill himself. After doing the deed, Benjamin was hit by Julie and friends’ car, and thus wanted revenge on them now.

…are you following any of this? Why the FUCK would he wait a whole year before doing anything? Why would he keep taunting them with stupid things like cutting their hair? Why would he keep letting them live and not just kill them off quicker? Why would a guy who’s apparently SO GOOD at hiding, setting up traps and covering his tracks continue working as a fisherman and not try to, uh, do anything more worthy of his obvious talents? This movie is stupid! The characters are cardboard cutouts, the kills are nothing special and the plot makes no sense. It’s one of those movies where you just know any inconsistencies in the storytelling were glanced over with a callous shrug of the shoulders and a “Who cares, they’ll just be paying attention to Jennifer Love Hewitt’s boobs anyway” from the writers. And that’s just lazy as hell. The only reason this movie was popular was because of all the big names, nothing else.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go write my own slasher movie starring Shia LaBeouf, Michael Cera and Megan Fox, who will wear nothing but miniskirts and push up bras the entire time. I’ll be rich! Muahahahaha!