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I Still Know What You Did Last Summer

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Directed by: 
Danny Cannon
Jennifer Love Hewitt
Freddie Prinze Jr.
Brandy Norwood
Bottom Line: 

 I Still Know… is part of that ugly trend of hip, vacuous, un-scary teen horror movies that have plagued the genre of late, & as such – with me being serious horror movie lover & all – I should hate it’s stupid reels of celluloid simply for existing. Every bone in my body tells me that this film is complete trash that I should detest with a vengeance. This is the kind of film that gives the horror genre a bad name. But I don’t hate it. In fact, (and I can just feel my creditability disappearing as you read this) I really enjoy it. Now don’t get me wrong here – as a serious horror movie I Still Know… is contemptible trash. Maybe it’s got something to do with that fact that I believe that life’s too short to take serious exception to a film like this (you probably need relaxation therapy if you do), even though it’s symptomatic of most of what went wrong with American horror in the mid to late ‘90’s. Maybe I’m just a huge sucker for trashy slasher movies (it’s my only weakness). Maybe I’ve just been exposed to too many trashy teen movies & TV shows recently. I mean, call me crazy, but the only way I can take a movie filled with a 20-something "teen" American cast, is if they’re going to be viciously slaughtered at regular intervals. I find that strangely satisfying.
Coherent & plausible plotting, character logic (even just within one scene), good dialogue, any kind of emotional content, characters who aren’t able to materialise suddenly in unlikely places, an insight into the human condition. All these things are lacking in I Still Know… But then, I don’t watch slasher movies for any of those things. In fact, one of the things I most enjoy about them is when they lack those very elements. Which where this film’s concerned is a good thing. I also don’t actually watch them to be scared – ditto. I do watch them because I’m a real sucker for those daft stalking scenes with characters slowly creeping around, usually in the dark. These don’t even have to end with the killer jumping out – the delicious stalking itself is enough, even if it turns out to be a friendly character. And on that level, I Still Know… is a real triumph. There are a quite ridiculous number of those sequences throughout the film, so many so that it all becomes sublimely absurd. And more often than not, it doesn’t end in horrible murder, which is something that will annoy & bore most audiences. But not me. There are also a number of silly chases towards the end, which are always the most fun part of slasher films. I Still Know… concentrates on these sequences to the exclusion of virtually everything else, & as for as I’m concerned, that’s a great thing. The majority of modern slasher films feel an annoying need to include plenty of boring teen angst "drama" to convince audiences that they are in fact "serious", "real" movies. I Still Know… doesn’t bother with such things, taking a pure, shamelessly direct approach – the film is about people being chased, killed, & making you jump, that’s ALL – that I can’t help but admire. And that is what makes it probably the most watchable of the ‘90s straight slasher movies.
There are actually a few things that are actually good about this film. And by that I mean good in a good way, not a so-bad-it’s-good way. There’s a pleasing lack of the Scream-like oh-so-bloody-clever "humour", & director Danny Cannon forgoes the slow pacing of the original to keep events cracking along at a fair lick, making it slightly more stylish than you might imagine. It’s never very long before the next sublimely pointless "suspense" sequence or murder comes along. The cinematography by Vernon Layton is very good, giving the film a surprisingly beautiful look above it’s worth, & John Frizzell supplies a fun score with a very nice main theme. Plus (& I just know that whatever respect you may have still had for me is about to disappear) there’s Jennifer Love Hewitt. Personally, I think that there’s enough in her performance here – desperately sweet meets Ripley-esque strength - to suggest that she might just break out & become a major star, if only she could get a role that required her to do more than simply smile prettily & have large breasts. Then again, she is very good at that. Plus, there’s genre favourite Jeffrey Combs (always good value) as the scene-stealing slimy hotel manager, wearing a permanent sneer, taking the mickey out of the rest of the cast & constantly looking like he can’t wait to finish & get into a bad film with rather more cult credibility.
If you’re after serious horror (or would just like to see Freddie Prinze Jr. die – he doesn’t), then don’t even consider watching this. I can’t really imagine it scaring anyone unless they were complete slasher virgins. In fact, if anyone was scared by it, I’d quite like to meet them just so that I can point & laugh at them. Still, if you can approach it in the right frame of mind, it’s not entirely unentertaining. It may be one of the more watchable of the ‘90s slasher films, but you have to remember that it’s still just a ‘90s slasher film. I’d love to say that this film has a cult following, but unfortunately only one person doesn’t seem to count as a cult. Most people are either so inexperienced in the genre that they think this is genuinely great, or so experienced they can’t enjoy it because it’s so weak (or perhaps because it’s too mainstream). For most people, this film will be a complete waste of time – don’t say I didn’t warn you, you’re likely to have your own favourite entertainingly bad films that are better than this one – but everyone’s entitled to their own guilty pleasures. And this is definitely one of mine, & I don’t care who knows it. I just love it. The star rating I’ve given is a halfway mark – one serious skull for the photography & Jeffrey Combs, but three for the mindless entertainment factor.
The DVD is a two-sided affair, with P/S one side & 2.35:1 widescreen on the other that shows off the excellent photography well. Picture & sound are as well transferred as you’d expect of a recent film from a major studio. For extras, you get a passable but brief & largely unenlightening "making of", trailers for this & a couple of other films starring Love Hewitt, plus the music video of her song "How do I deal." I actually quite enjoy this song (oh, I can just feel that respect disappearing with each word I write), but if you don’t you may still enjoy watching it with the sound down. Overall, I’m not going to recommend this film to everyone, but anyone with a taste for cheesy slasher movies should get a bit of a kick out of it. It’s pacier, gorier, & more fun than the original, but sadly almost impossible to enjoy as straight horror fare. Still, what else did you expect from it?

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