[Screen It]


(1997) (Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar) (R)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
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Smoking Tense Family
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Horror: Four friends are terrorized by someone who states that they know the friends were responsible for, and then covered up, an accidental death one summer ago.
It's the summer after high school for four North Carolina friends. Julie James (JENNIFER LOVE HEWITT), the smart one, is dating Ray Bronson (FREDDIE PRINZE JR.), the son of a local fisherman. Helen Shivers (SARAH MICHELLE GELLAR) has just won a local beauty pageant and hopes to become an actress while her boyfriend, Barry Cox (RYAN PHILLIPPE), is a snobbish, spoiled rich kid. Their future seems bright until one night they accidentally hit and kill a man with their car. Scared that the police will charge them for drunken manslaughter, the guys convince the ladies that they'll dispose of the body and never tell anyone of their secret. A year then passes, and the guilt of their deed has fractured their friendship. They're brought together again, however, after they begin getting notes and other signs that someone knows what they did last summer. They begin to investigate the possibilities, and discover many suspects, such as Max (JOHNNY GALECKI), another teen who drove by the initial accident scene, and Melissa Egan (ANNE HECHE), the dead man's creepy sister. As the anniversary of their deed approaches, the foursome finds themselves confronting a violent killer intent upon enacting revenge for the man's death.
If they liked last year's ‘Scream" or other horror films, they probably will.
For strong horror violence and language.
Since all four teens go along with the plan to cover up their "deed," few parents would consider them good role models.


OUR TAKE: 3 out of 10
Teen horror "slasher" flicks have a certain recipe that's usually followed. First, find a group of attractive actors and actresses, making sure the young ladies are buxom, flat-bellied and have long flowing hair (all the better to attract the hormone-raged male teenage audience). Oh, and the ability to scream really loud for long periods of time is also preferred. The gents need to be "studly," tough guys, with the occasional tender side (for the young females present). Throw in a deranged stalker who can only kill on anniversaries of tragic events, give him some sort of signature weapon (think of Freddy Krueger and his steel-clawed hand), and throw in copious amounts of stupidity -- enough at least to kill a small town. Mix it all together and hope that by adding a line stating "From the creator of..." in the ads you'll attract the teenagers in droves to the flick.

The result: "I Know What You Did Last Summer," the latest film that's hoping to ride the coattails of last year's big hit, "Scream," to box office success. Written by the same fella, Kevin Williamson, this picture follows the above recipe to a "t," and for a while it's rather effective and interesting. The setup is perfect for this type of film, as it creates the scenario of many possible suspects, and the disintegration of the foursome's tight friendship. Not knowing who, or what the killer is, has always been a fun way to start such films, and keeps the audience guessing along with the characters in the movie. Unfortunately, this film falls flat after that promising beginning. Sure there are a few suspenseful sequences and many effective moments that will make you jump from your seat. Yet, the film makers kill off a good prime suspect too early, and eventually unmask the killer -- a big no-no in this genre. Once we see that the killer's one of us -- well, that would be true if we were all deranged killers, but you know what I mean -- the spooky "who/what is it" element is gone.

Of course, they were really grasping through thin air when they came up with this guy's appearance. I mean, c'mon, he is the Gorton's Fisherman (You know, the guy from the seafood commercials. Everybody, sing along..."Trust the Gorton's Fisherman"). Dressed in a monotone slicker and wearing a fisherman's large hat, this guy's as frightening as -- are you ready? -- the mailman. Actually, I guess those guys are scarier, especially when they go postal. Ha-ha. Anyway, yes, they put the fisherman in the shadows to make him look ominous, and he has that deep, raspy breathing that sounds really cool in the closet where he's hiding. But let's face it, he's just not going to go down in the annals as a great horror film villain. While I was surprised that they revealed his identity -- thinking "there goes the sequel possibilities" -- the film makers do make provisions for the inevitable, and probably worse, follow-up to this picture. Since the villain loses a hand in this film, we now know where his weapon -- a fisherman's hook -- will go in the next.

The film and the characters get really stupid toward the end which is something we despise in this genre. If you found yourself on a boat just thirty feet from the dock with the killer chasing you, would you a) Jump from the boat and swim to safety or b) Scream like an idiot and run around the boat to make sure the killer will chase you for several more minutes? Guess what happens here. Beyond that, there's a minor, but extremely ludicrous part of the film that involves its locale. We're told the film is set in a North Carolina fishing town, but gee, I'd swear those rocky beaches that lead up to the curvy roads on the mountains are in California (or somewhere on the Pacific coast, and to top it off, we also see a huge underwater kelp forest -- something not found along the Carolinas). So much for geographical accuracy.

The performances are decent enough to keep the film moving along, but most everyone is there just to meet a grisly demise at some moment when they're least expecting it. If you liked "Scream" you'll probably like this one as well. Just like that film, however, this one takes an interesting premise and then dummies it down way too much until it becomes just a stereotypical horror flick. Certainly not as clever as "Scream," this film is certain to scare up big audiences, however, just like that one. Which is a shame, because younger audiences are being shown inferior horror films that use simple "jump scene" elements for their big scares. We want films that get under your skin and creep you out so much that you don't want to turn off the lights at night. All this film will do is make you take notice when you're eating some Gorton's fish sticks. You'll see the drawing of the fisherman on the container and say, "Wasn't he in "I Know What You Did Last Summer?" We give this film a 3 out of 10.

If you've seen any horror film where a deranged person hunts down and kills many people, then you pretty much know what to expect with this one. There are many suspenseful and scary scenes that will be too much for younger kids. Many murders take place and several of them are quite bloody. Profanity is extreme with more than 30 "f" words, and some sexual activity is implied, but not seen. The bigger issue is that these teens hit and kill someone with their car and then decide to cover it up and not tell anyone. There is the moral, however, that bad deeds will come back to haunt you, and this film shows the strong, but rather unrealistic consequences of the foursome's actions. Since many teens will probably want to see this film, we suggest that you look through the content to determine whether it's appropriate or not for them.

  • A guy drinks liquor from a bottle while sitting on the edge of a cliff.
  • People drink at an outdoor party and Max offers a "shooter" to Helen, but Barry comes along and downs it himself.
  • Later, Barry drinks more liquor from a bottle, spills some in the car, and appears to be drunk.
  • Julie's mother, noting her daughter's odd behavior, asks, "Are you on drugs?" Julie responds that she isn't.
  • Helen's father has a drink while watching TV.
  • Barry has a little blood on him after they hit the man on the road.
  • The man they hit has a very bloody face.
  • Blood squirts out from a guy's chin after he's been "hooked."
  • Barry has a few bloody cuts on his head after being hit by a car.
  • We see a dead body in a trunk covered by crabs, and one of them crawls from the dead guy's mouth.
  • Some blood drips from a railing after another murder.
  • Blood pours from a cop's mouth after he's been stabbed by the killer's hook.
  • Blood squirts onto a glass door when another person is killed. We later see that person being dragged by the hook.
  • Julie finds several dead, but bloodless, bodies in a deep pile of ice.
  • A man's hand is ripped off his arm, and we later see the severed, and partially bloody hand.
  • Obviously the killer has extreme cases of both.
  • Thinking the police will charge them with drunken manslaughter, the guys convince the women not to tell anyone what happened or that they dumped the body. The foursome then agrees to take their secret "to the grave."
  • Barry has a rich, spoiled kid attitude and is mean to nearly everyone around him.
  • Scenes listed under "Violence" may also be tense to some viewers.
  • The film is filled with your standard run-of-the-mill horror film scenes. Some involve characters thinking someone's in the room with them, while others involve those characters being chased and/or killed by the killer.
  • The foursome hits a man on a winding mountain road, and then must look for the body at night.
  • Preparing to dump the body into the ocean, the man suddenly comes to life and grabs Helen. He grabs her crown as they push him into the water and Barry must dive in and recover it from him.
  • Barry hears someone in a locker room with him. Later, his car is stolen and the person driving it chases after and finally hits him with it.
  • We see the killer go into Helen's bedroom right before she goes in.
  • Trapped in the backseat of a caged police car, Helen watches as the officer approaches a man (the killer) and is killed. The killer then comes after her and a big, elongated chase scene follows. It leads back to her sister's store, where Helen panics as her sister takes her sweet time unlocking and opening the door. Later, more suspenseful chasing and violence occurs.
  • There's a long sequence aboard a boat where the killer fights Ray when not chasing Julie throughout the entire boat.
  • Fisherman's hook: Used by the killer to attack and kill many people.
  • Phrases: "Eat me," "Chum bait," "Shut up," "Pissed," "Screwing around" (nonsexual), and "Dumb ass."
  • Ray quickly drives the foursome along winding mountain roads and often crosses the double yellow line.
  • Barry drunkenly stands up through a car's sunroof while Ray drives.
  • The foursome covers up their "crime" and agrees not to tell anyone (after coercing and persuading Julie not to call the police).
  • There are many scenes where characters turn around and bump into things or where the bad guy, or others suddenly appear or jump out at them, both of which will make audience members jump from their seats. Some of the jumps also come from sudden, loud music.
  • The film is filled with an extreme amount of music normally associated with horror films such as this.
  • None.
  • At least 33 "f" words (2 using "mother"), 17 "s" words, 1 slang terms for male genitals (the "p" word), 8 asses (1 using "hole"), 7 hells, 2 damns, 2 craps, and 7 uses of "Oh my God," "3 uses each of "Jesus" and "Jesus Christ," 2 uses each of "G-damn" and "God," and 1 use each of "Christ," "Swear to God" and "Oh Jesus" as exclamations.
  • Ray comments to Barry about Helen, "I didn't notice her breasts were so ample" at a beauty pageant where Helen and others reveal some cleavage in their bathing suits.
  • Both Helen and Julie also reveal cleavage in other outfits they wear throughout the film.
  • Helen tells Barry that "you can impregnate me with the first of three children" (after they get married). She lies on top of him when saying this and he gives her a quick pelvic thrust.
  • Ray and Julie make out at the beach and she takes off her jacket. Ray asks, "Are you sure?" She nods, they continue kissing and it's implied that they have sex (nothing's seen).
  • Later, Helen tells a drunken Ray, "Come ride in the back (of the car) with me. I'll let you do things to me."
  • Helen smokes a few times during the movie.
  • We see a very brief scene where Julie looks at pictures of her and her dad, and we learn that he died not long ago.
  • We see another brief scene where Helen's father doesn't even acknowledge her presence while he watches a baseball game.
  • We learn that Ray never knew his father and all he does know is that he was a fisherman.
  • Trying to cover up a misdoing or accident, especially when it involves something as serious as hitting a person with a car.
  • Ray pushes Max and they nearly get into a fight, but are quickly separated.
  • Ray accidentally hits someone while driving, and we then see the bloody body. Later, and very frightened, they dump the body into the ocean, knowing that the person is actually still alive.
  • Barry grabs Julie by the throat, physically persuading her to agree to take their secret "to the grave."
  • Thinking he's the killer, Barry grabs Max and slams him against a large block of ice and then accidentally cuts him with a fisherman's hook.
  • The killer slams his hook into a guy's chin and yanks him across a table, killing him.
  • The killer drives a car into Barry, sending him crashing through a building.
  • Helen shatters a mirror after finding that the killer has written a message on it.
  • Barry walks up and punches Ray, now thinking he's the killer.
  • Barry sees whom he thinks is the killer and chases after him. He knocks several people aside and finally tackles the man, but it's not him.
  • The killer repeatedly stabs and kills another person (we don't see the actual blows) with his hook.
  • The killer hooks and kills a cop, and moments later, two women.
  • Ray and the killer fight and they throw many punches at each other. The killer also repeatedly swings his hook at Ray.
  • A man's hand is ripped from his arm.

  • Reviewed October 17, 1997

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