Losing The Plot: Tales Of The Convoluted #1 - I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998).

Post Scream, the late 90s became dominated by Teen Horror. Movie posters and video sleeves of the time were saturated with the faces of their beautiful cast, all lined up for the slaughter at the hands of whatever killer cliché was pursuing them in their respective movies. Gone was the grand, heavy metal album style, artwork of the 80s. The 90s approach was more about selling the movie with the face of whichever Dawsons Creek actor happened to be starring in the film.

I Know What You Did Last Summer was one such example. To its credit, IKWYDLS is a fairly decent slasher movie. Having been released in 1997, it was an early enough entry that horror fans hadn’t yet grown tired of the watered-down, teeny, MTV horror film. What made ‘I Know’ palatable was its simplicity. It’s a straightforward tale of a foursome of youngsters, who accidentally kill a man in a drunken hit and run. They resolve to dispose of the body to avoid jail time and the damage that would befall their promising futures.

In true horror movie style, nothing is ever that simple, and a year later the gang starts receiving ominous letters. Each letter states ‘I know what you did last summer’. With that, they are picked off one by one by a sinister, hook-handed fisherman. IKWYDLS isn’t high art. It’s little more than clean, PG13 slasher fair. It is, however, an easy, inoffensive watch, and it has its fans.

Its sequel is an entirely different story…

On the surface, it’s easy to regard I Still Know What you Did Last Summer as a typical, if inferior, follow up.

After all, the horror genre is cluttered with subpar sequels. It’s nothing new and people still flock to see them, meaning that sequels are big business.

My problem with ISKWYDLS isn’t that it isn’t as good as the first. It isn’t even based around Jack Black’s embarrassing turn as a pudgy, dreadlocked stoner. My issue with this film is that its plot is so mind-bogglingly convoluted. The killer’s plan for revenge hinges on so many unlikely factors coming together that it becomes completely inconceivable to swallow that this was the plan that the antagonist came up with.

Even the most over the top, Scooby-Doo villain would consider this revenge plan too outrageous.

Returning final girl, Julie (Jennifer Love Hewitt) is trying to put her life back together after the events of the last film. Still traumatized and suffering from survivor guilt, Julie drifts from day to day, keeping people at arm’s length, including her old flame, Ray (Freddie Prinze Jr). She’s essentially a PTSD riddled, jumpy, bag of nerves, much to the irritation of her roommate Karla (Brandy Norwood).

One morning as Julie and Karla sit having breakfast, they receive a phone call. The voice on the end of the phone claims to be some hip radio DJ. He tells them that if they answer a question correctly, they could win a trip to the Bahamas. The question being, ‘What is the capital of Brazil?’ This is where the film starts to fall apart. The girl's answer (incorrectly) with Rio. Now, this ruse works fine for the uneducated members of the audience, but anyone watching the movie who happens to have a decent knowledge of geography knows immediately that they have answered wrong, and that something fishy is going on.

Anyway, the DJ confirms that they are, indeed, correct and awards them with four tickets to paradise. Karla gifts a ticket to her boyfriend Tyrell (Mekhi Phifer), while Julie wants to take Ray, hoping to rekindle their dormant romance. Ray, however, declines, and Julie ends up saddled with the over-enthusiastic panting puppy dog Will (Matthew Settle).

With the foursome in place, the group board a plane and jet off for their Caribbean getaway. Sadly, upon arriving, they discover that all other guests are leaving. The holiday coincides with storm season and they are about to become the only people, other than a hotel skeleton crew, on the island.

Realizing his mistake, Ray decides to head to the island and surprise Julie with an engagement ring. Unfortunately, his plans are thwarted by an encounter with the killer that ends with Ray hospitalized.

Meanwhile, back on the island, people are being picked off by the very same killer. Somehow he has made it to the Bahamas and is murdering anyone who comes between him and his ultimate goal, Julie.

Okay, ignoring that we don’t yet understand why the killer is there, we have to just accept that he would follow Julie on an all-expenses-paid, tropical holiday. So far, so stupid.

Not one of her friends believes Julie, once the bodies pile up. Even if it were all just a product of her imagination, her so-called friends handle it so badly. Julie is mentally scarred. Every one of her friends knows what she has been through and yet they disregard her fears in favour of spending the weekend looking for somewhere to do the nasty. Julie’s friends suck.

Back to good old Ray. He discharges himself from hospital, buys himself a gun and then heads to the coast where he gets himself a boat and then sails off to the Bahamas to rescue Julie. Let’s dissect this for a minute. Ray lives in North Carolina and while Ray is an experienced sailor and it is possible to sail to the Bahamas from NC in a few hours, why does Ray just assume that Julie is in danger? He is attacked on his home turf and nothing that happens during this attack suggests that the killer is then heading off for a little Caribbean carnage. It’s not like the killer was dragging his suitcase behind him.

Back on the island, the terrified tourists are doing their best to survive the night, when they run into creepy, voodoo practitioner and hotel concierge, Estes (Bill Cobb) who informs them that they answered the quiz question wrong and that the capital of Brazil is in fact Brasilia. Now, here’s the thing. Karla informs Estes that they won their holiday by answering a radio question when she first arrives on the island. She clearly tells him that she answered Rio, to which Estes just smiles. He never thought to tell her there and then that she had answered the question wrong? And from hearing that they had won a holiday by answering a question incorrectly, he instantly suspects that they are in danger. He also instantly suspects that there is something more than meets the eye about Will. None of that makes even a lick of sense.

It soon transpires that Estes was right to suspect Will. It turns out that Will isn’t really Will. He is the son of the hook-handed psycho Ben Willis, and Will Benson is a pseudonym. Will Benson, Will, Ben’s son. Get it? Who writes this shit?

So, the killer’s plan, all along, breaks down like this. Having defeated Ben in the first film and having caused him to lose his hand, the vengeful Ben Willis wants revenge. That’s fair enough, who wouldn’t? What he should have done is found out where Julie and Ray live, snuck into their houses while they slept and butchered them. I guess that would have been too easy because this is his plan in a nutshell…

Evil Ben purchases four all-inclusive tickets to the Bahamas out of his own pocket. God only knows how much that must have cost. He then has his son pose as a cheesy radio host in order to deliver the aforementioned tickets. The fact that they were too stupid to answer the question correctly is inconsequential. His plan then hinges on Ray refusing to go on the holiday. If Ray had said yes, Will wouldn’t have been able to go along, which would have thrown a massive spanner in the works. Sure, you could argue that Ben saw to this by intercepting Ray after he changed his mind, but I call bullshit. How did he know that Ray had changed his mind? How did he know that Ray would be travelling on that particular stretch of road at that particular time? The whole thing reeks of convenience.

Another ludicrous factor is that Will had to enrol in Julie’s college and befriend her before any of this crazy idea could be accomplished. Just getting this revenge scheme off the ground is exhausting.

Ben then has to get his crazy ass over to the island and dock without being seen. It’s a tiny resort. It doesn’t really allow for stealth.

So, now, out of pocket and completely fatigued, it’s time to put his plan in place and do something that he could have done at home, saving himself a fortune in the process. It’s just a very weird story. I honestly believe that they wanted to set a slasher movie on a tropical island and couldn’t think of a plausible way to pull it off.

I haven’t even mentioned the fact yet, that the killer programs the words ‘I STILL KNOW’ onto a karaoke screen and nobody sees it but Julie. How in the ever-living shit did he manage that?

The entire plot of I Know What You Did Last Summer reads as if it had been written by an ex-rodeo clown that had been kicked in the head by a horse, one time too many. Why anyone thought that this was the best route to take is beyond me. Just trying to follow the story makes my head hurt. It’s utterly brainless and relies on one plot coincidence after another. Take any, one away and the entire thing falls apart.

There is a third film in this series. I don’t remember too much about it other than original stars Hewitt and Prinze Jr jumped ship. SKWYDLS, being the logic black hole that it is, that was probably a wise choice.