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Review: I Still Know What You Did Last Summer

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Review: I Still Know What You Did Last Summer

Old 04-07-99, 07:09 AM
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I Still Know What You Did Last Summer
Dolby Digital 5.1/2.0(no foreign language tracks)
Running Time:100 Minutes

Hollywood is an amazing place. The director of this film, Danny Cannon, also made the incredibly horrid "Judge Dredd", the 1995 Stallone film that was a huge flop. And yet, here he is again. What's scarier? Cannon directing again or the bad guy with the hook as a hand? Hmmm....probably Cannon.

Another in the surge of teen horror films, this one was actually preceeded by one that I quite enjoyed. Not a fan or horror myself, the original "I Know What You Did Last Summer" was more of a thriller in that its shocks were more visceral than visual. This film gets a little more towards the horror genre that "Scream" is, without the pop culture references.

We continue with the story of Julie James(Jennifer Love Hewitt), haunted by the memories of what happened last Summer(or was it two Summers ago?) when she was stalked by a psychotic man after her and her friends hit a man with their car by accident two Summers back. That film was a sleek, fast, well-done thriller with a good deal of tension. One of those great edge-of-your-seat films. I'll admit it, I wasn't and still am not a fan of the "sister-series" "Scream", which I feel is slowed down by the pop-culture filled screenplays, mocking the genre it's redefined and energized.

The first film also had a better duo with Sarah Michelle Gellar and Hewitt. In this film, we get pop-star Brandy, who I like, but she just doesn't have the same darkness and depth that Gellar brought to her role. Brandy plays Karla, the roommate of Hewitt's Julie James. The two girls win a trip to an island paradise, and are joined by their two boyfriends. Right away, things get a little spooky as the island seems quite deserted as the group finds out they've been sent in the rainy "off-season".

Right away, there are little hints and instances that something is very, very wrong. It's unfortunate that this first half of the movie moves really quite slowly with few moments of any interest. It's a buildup that takes a little too long; I liked the fact that Hewitt plays the character as completely psychologically undone, it adds a little bit of depth and character to the role. The only problem though is that it simply doesn't go anywhere for the first half. If we're not watching the teens in college, we're watching them sitting around the resort. It all gets fairly dull fairly quickly.

The "Bad Guy" makes his appearance known in the second half of the film which gets a lot more speedy and a lot more exciting as the film develops into one big chase scene around and around and around the island. Where the first film had a great bit of tension in the fact that these kids were not only running from the psycho, but the crime that they commited, it just doesn't happen in this film due to it's predictability and empty shocks. You know what's going to happen, you can pretty much guess who's going to get knocked off next. Some good moments, a couple of effective shocks, but overall the second film is all noise and no fury. Hewitt has an effective performance, but I didn't care for any of the other characters or their performances. None of the characters besides Hewitt's are very interesting. I think Freddie Prinze, Jr is a very good actor ( a holdover from the first film), but in this film he pretty much spends the entire film getting to the island, as he's left behind after an arguement.

Overall, there are some aspects of the film that should be discussed. Jennifer Love Hewitt should seriously consider following other projects, such as her "Cupid's Love"(at New Line) Another one of these films right away would be too soon, and put her down the road of being typecast. The problem with this series is it either needs a new writer or a new director. The rule of sequels is to "up" the original. That's absolutely fine, but the audience should not sense that the film is somewhat desperate to shock. The first film wasn't quite as gory(for an interesting discussion on the gore in the first film, look for director Jim Gilespie's commentary on the DVD). I'm from the school of thought that a lot of the time, violence offscreen or simply heard and not seen can be a lot more terrifying than simply making a gory film, which is what made the X-Files so spooky and scary in it's first season. Gore, to me, gets tiring visually and emotionally after a while. It's not scary, it's not entertaining and it's old. Overall, this film just feels slow and you can pretty much guess what's going to happen a mile away.

I don't know if a sequel to the original film was entirely neccessary(I can just imagine those at Sony going, "Are You Kiddding? The First One Made 80 Mil!".), but the entire idea of holding this film on a resort island seems to have not much point to anything in particular. It's like asking your teacher in high school why something is and having them respond, "because I said so!". But, anyways, this film just seems to run out of any ideas somewhat quickly and turns to gore.

And, as the film ends in an entirely not believeable final sequence and the credits roll, I still know what'll be back likely by late next year. Hollywood is definitely a strange place.

The DVD:
Image: Perfection. Not only is this up to the usual Columbia/Tristar standard of excellence in DVD production, it raises the standard up a few notches. Daylight scenes look especially wonderful, with rich colors, tones and contrast. Nighttime scenes(which there is plenty of) look clear and without any instances of grain or artifacts.Although I didn't always like the movie, I did like the cinematography by Vernon Layton("The Englishman Who Went Up A Hill, But Came Down A Mountain") and this disc preserves his work quite well. Lighting work, such as the strobe lights in the early club scene, look detailed and crisp. The varied hues and tones in that scene(mostly blue) also look great. Color saturation and especially contrast are fantastic, with no color bleeding or running throughout; all of the colors used are sharp and especially vibrant. Skin tones are absolutely perfect throughout. Again, though, I was impressed by just how detailed and clear the dark(and some very, very dark) scenes looked in this movie. There are no artifacts to speak of at all; no pixelization or shimmering whatsoever. Another film recently where the DVD looks slightly better than the film when I watched it in theaters. The letterboxed transfer is 16x9 enchanced and it looks phenomenal; there is also a pan/scan transfer that looks good, but it's missing a lot of information compared to the letterboxed version.

Sound: Agressive and actually, a little scary, which is good because the film itself doesn't really try to be very scary. Great clarity on all of the foreboding music notes(or "false alarms") and some excellent and sharp action, especially a few thunder effects and a few psuedo-scary moments which sound wonderful, even if the film isn't always exactly, well, wonderful. The spookiest sounds, voices from the first film through the opening credits, also sound crisp. Soundtrack songs also sound full, rich and integrated nicely. Dialogue is also crystal clear throughout.

Extras: Nothing much. The trailers for both "I Know What You Did Last Summer" and "I Still Know What You Did Last Summer" along with "Can't Hardly Wait". There is also a short featurette and Hewitt's "How Do I Deal?" music video. It would have been nice to have a commentary by the writer and creator of the first film, Kevin Williamson("Scream"). I would imagine his commentary would start something like this, "I walk away for one minute and look what they do to my series!"

Menus: Nicely designed, but nothing much in the way of animation or leaps of creativity.

Value: Well, not too bad. You do get an excellent transfer for $24.99, but there isn't much to see in the film, a slow and tiresome retread of the original film, which was a far better and far more effective scare.

The Grades:
The Movie:65/D = (325/500 possible points)
Video Quality:93/A = (372/400 possible points)
Audio Quality:92/A = (368/400 possible points)
Extras: 75/C = (225/300 possible points)
Value: 72/C = (216/300 possible points)
Menus: 70/C- = (140/200 possible points)
Overall Presentation: 82.5/B = (82.5/100 possible points)

TOTAL POINTS:1727.5/2200
Overall Score: 78.52%
Overall Stars:** 1/2(possible rental)
Recommendation: Maybe a rental, but mainly just to see a great transfer. Unless you really, really like this film, I do not recommend a purchase.
Final Thought: Another entry into the "bad movie gets great looking dvd" category.

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Old 01-10-02, 10:27 PM
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Just to see Jennifer alone was enough for me to buy this dvd....
Old 01-12-02, 11:32 PM
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Just to see Jennifer alone was enough for me to buy this dvd....
She's the only reason why I might buy this disk. Of course, I'm probably not going to because this movie was horrible.
Old 01-13-02, 02:50 PM
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I was going to correct the retail price, but I now see that that review was written nearly 3 years ago! It can be had for under $10 now if you're interested.

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