I Know What You Did Last Summer rejuvenated the slasher genre the same way Scream did just one year prior. With the same writer leaning into the youth conscious 90’s. A slasher element was added to the skeleton of a book where four friends cover up a hit-and-run. Out of all the popular slasher flicks I’ve seen, this was less about the killer and more about its hip young stars. All four celebrities are synonymous with the 90’s. You’ve got “Scream Queens” Jennifer Love Hewitt (Julie) and Sarah Michelle Gellar (Helen), along with teen “it boys” Ryan Phillippe (Barry) and Freddie Prinze Jr. (Ray).
It’s because of I Know What You Did Last Summer that Gellar & Prinze have been married since 2002. Despite not being a couple in the movie itself. Instead, Julie is dating Ray and Helen is dating Barry. They’re all close friends living in a small fishing community. They start partying after attending Helen’s crown winning beauty pageant, but an unfortunate series of events ends in the presumed death of an unknown man. Rather than ruin their futures, they make the grave mistake of throwing the body in a lake. Only it ends up ruining their futures anyway. Since the guilt is too much for Julie and everyone’s broken up. That’s when they discover the ominous note “I Know What You Did Last Summer.”
The movie does contain some nods and winks, but it’s not exactly self-referential. The “Hush” trailer really leaned into the comedic aspects though. Specifically the infamous “What are you waiting for?!” Even though kills can still be very brutal. After a lot of investigation, the killer is revealed to be a Fisherman. Not exactly an instant icon, but the Urban Legend inspired hook and rain slicker are threatening. I Know What You Did Last Summer can get a little cheesy, but it does balance a dark set up with bloody hallmarks.
Followed by: I Still Know What You Did Summer