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I Still Know What You Did Last Summer

Review by Justin Felix.

Screenplay by Trey Callaway.
Directed by Danny Cannon.
Starring Jennifer Love Hewitt, Brandy, Freddie Prinze Jr., Mekhi Phifer.
Rated R (contains violence and profanity) approx. 90 mins.

Synopsis: Sullen Julie James, still haunted by nightmares of the killer Ben Willis from I Know What you Did Last Summer, perks up when her new best friend Karla Wilson wins a trip for four to the Bahamas. Arriving at the start of the hurricane season, Julie and Karla run around in very tight clothing and realize they've walked into a trap set by the rainslickered slasher with a huge hook for a hand.

Comments: I may be showing some pop culture illiteracy here, but I have never seen an episode of the Fox TV series "Party of Five." I am only vaguely aware of the show's premise, and my knowledge of it comes from brief commercials I half-paid attention to while watching the tube. "Party of Five," I do know however, seems to be the starting ground for actresses in the teen horror genre. Neve Campbell, Scream Queen of the 90s and star of Scream, Scream 2 and The Craft is a regular of the show. So too is Jennifer Love Hewitt. Lo and behold, following in the footsteps of Campbell, Hewitt now has a horror franchise of her own: the I Know What You Did Last Summer line. Though the original film, released last year, was watchable enough, this insipid sequel had me looking at the theater's glowing red EXIT sign longingly throughout.

Jennifer Love Hewitt is a very good-looking young leading lady; however, unlike Neve Campbell, Hewitt struggles with acting. She just isn't convincing in this film (and she wasn't in the original either). This puts many young males, including myself, in a paradoxical quandary: she's very attractive, but the annoying, spoiled, Valley Girl-type character she tries to play here is annoying to the extreme and ruins many of the scenes which emphasize, exploitatively, her figure. Add to the mix the equally pleasant yet irritating Brandy, another rising teen TV star, and you get one frustrated male audience.

I've spent so much time on Hewitt and Brandy for a reason. I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, though cashing in on the success of the original, ultimately serves as a vehicle for these two young actresses. Nothing else here is original or interesting. This movie, in fact, makes other recent so-so horror films like Urban legend and John Carpenter's Vampires seem like stunning works of high art. I Still Know relies heavily on tired slasher film cliches: an isolated location, a storm, parentless teenagers, false alarm nightmares, lots of blue-lighted darkness scenes, a garbed slasher who walks around in the background without the characters seeing him, knives and other sharp instruments lying around everywhere, etc. You get the picture. The entire audience knows all the secondary characters introduced in the film are going to receive the business end of the killer's hook. They may as well have huge targets painted on them. Like Scream and its numerous knockoffs, thesI Still Know's characters aren't all that funny. In particular, one character, a chain-weed-smoking guy, is obnoxiously annoying and certainly doesn't die soon enough. The death scenes, by the way, are relatively violent for a theatrically released horror film. Several of them are uncomfortable to watch, and they reminded me of the sickening gore scenes in Hellraiser: Bloodline, a truly sadistic movie. This, too, did not help the supposed humor I Still Know was shooting for.

And what is the deal with the slasher himself? I know that the slasher film is not a particularly intelligent genre, but Ben Willis has got to go down as one of the most silly slashers in mainstream horror. Come on, the guy looks like the Gorton's fisherman, and his gruff voice makes him sound like a Disney pirate. Though his lightning-lit appearances ellicited much-needed laughter in the theater, his appearance borders on the absurd in the horror film, and that's *really* saying something.

So, all that's left to talk about here is Jennifer Love Hewitt and Brandy. Both prance about in tightfitting, revealing outfits or in various states of undress, yet neither of them ever actually do a nude scene. Hewitt, however, does do a post-shower scene in which her thin bathrobe is quite... titillating. This scene alone made this one-star turkey earn two stars under my rating system. Otherwise, Hewitt and Brandy both grate on the nerves. Early in the film, for instance, Brandy wins the trip to the Bahamas. She and Hewitt jump around and scream and screech for what seems like forever. I needed extra-strength Tylenol after that part. Oh, and the film's conclusion, talk about repetitive! People who saw I Know What You Did Last Summer will predict I Still Know's ending at least 5 minutes before it happens. Boring!

I saw this movie with my brother at the local downtown movie theater. Admission is only one dollar on Wednesdays, and we often go see bad movies on these days just to ridicule them. It's usually a fun thing to do along with the rest of the audience, who don't seem to mind participating in a mass "Mystery Science Theater 3000"-type viewing. I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, however, produced several lengthy uncomfortable silences from the audience, underscoring how bad it *really* is. If it weren't for the main actresses' revealing wardrobes, I'd have had a very, very hard time sitting through this lame sequel. I can't imagine trying to watch it on video (horror films seem 10 times better in a theater because they rely heavily on audience participation) and wouldn't recommend it to people, unless they're horror film fanatics or huge fans of Hewitt and Brandy. I read on a website somewhere that another sequel is already in the works. What a depressing thought. Hewitt apparently needs to spend more time on TV figuring out how to act.

Rated R, this film contains lots of violence, several gory scenes, and a couple nubile, horny teenagers--though the sex act itself is always thwarted. I'd say this is unsuitable for kids, but teens wouldn't have a problem sitting through it, especially since they obviously compose the film's target audience.


(Out of five)

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