I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998)
Release Date: November 13th, 1998 MPAA Rating: R
Director: Danny Cannon Actors: Jennifer Love Hewitt, Freddie Prinze Jr., Brandy, Mekhi Phifer, Muse Watson, Bill Cobbs, Matthew Settle, Jeffrey Combs, Jennifer Esposito, John Hawkes
ulie James (Jennifer Love Hewitt) is still incredibly guilt-ridden by the attempted murder and accidental killing of a villainous fisherman named Ben Willis (Muse Watson) one year ago, when she was a senior in high school transitioning to a freshman in college. Now in her second year at college, she’s plagued by nightmares about the ordeal, which prevent her from focusing on schoolwork. Her ex-boyfriend Ray (Freddie Prinze Jr.), who also survived the bloodletting rampage of Willis, wants her to accompany him back to their Southport hometown for the annual Fourth of July fish festival, but she’s understandably too paranoid and distressed to visit.
When Julie’s roommate Karla (Brandy) wins an all-expense-paid trip for four to the Bahamas, Julie is finally convinced to give up her sheltered lifestyle for a much-needed vacation. Ray and his fisherman friend Dave (John Hawkes) drive to meet her for the flight, but are attacked once again by a mysterious slicker-adorned, black-booted man wielding a bulky meat hook. Thinking that Ray has opted out of the tropical furlough to Tower Bay Island at the last minute, Karla instead brings her boyfriend Tyrell (Mekhi Phifer) and pal Will Benson (Matthew Settle), a fellow student who clearly has a crush on Julie.
The jump scares with screeching violins are at a record-setting high, despite being much less effective than before. Hewitt also screams twice as much this time around, splitting the instances between fits of terror and happiness, as if she’s grown more immature when it comes to partying, but more crazed, fidgety, and perpetually suspicious toward normal activities. Will presents a love triangle; the unmistakable ‘90s soundtrack returns; annoying disbelief stems from everyone around Julie; and insulting references to Freddie and Jason are made with the hope that audiences will accept this franchise in the same vein as more notable movie monsters. Plus, midriffs and rain-soaked cleavage keep making an appearance, along with bikinis, shower scenes, and slow undressing sequences that reveal no nudity – a typical teen slasher tease (though the R-rating surely could have allowed for exploitation).
When the words “I still know … what you did last summer” appear on a karaoke machine to which Julie is singing, it’s completely laughable. Taunting the lead character with the title phrase can no longer be taken seriously, which is unfortunate, since the tone of the movie struggles to be appropriately dark. Hewitt again shouts with outstretched arms to the heavens as if the culprit will act on her open defiance – a scene better known for the “Scary Movie” parodies it inspired. And it’s also ridiculous that the killer would predict Ray’s traveling route, unaware of his invite or decisions. The fisherman fiend is once again capable of outrageous cover-ups – including slaughtering hotel workers and then moving their bodies around and cleaning up gallons of blood within seconds – yet stalks his prey with a dawdling shuffle. “All I know is this is the worst vacation of my life,” states Tyrell, as he participates in a rehash of the first film, but with a brand new (but not original) location for terrorizing (and an ending that borrows from far too many other popular horror movies).
– Mike Massie