Wednesday, October 22, 1997

I Know What You Did Last Summer

Posted By on Wed, Oct 22, 1997 at 12:00 AM

Ever since Wes Craven threw in the towel on slasher films with his Wes Craven's Nightmare, the genre has become an upfront burlesque. Subtle nudges and winks no longer will do. Take, for example, a scene early in I Know What You Did Last Summer. A quartet of high school seniors, futures bright, libidos outta sight, sits on a beach exchanging pithy deconstruction of the slasher genre before they pair off for evil premarital sex, the leitmotiv of the genre.

Minutes later the kiddies, redolent with hanky-panky afterglow, hit the road for a bit of hot-rodding, only to run down a shadowy figure on the road. Afraid of what a murder rap could do for their GPAs, they dump the body off a wharf. Fast-forward a year. Racked with guilt, their lives are wrecks. But the worst is yet to come. They start receiving incriminating notes, followed by the appearance of a madman dolled up in a fisherman's slicker. Alas, as the body count goes up, believability goes down and one begins to tune into the omen of the opening scene in which "Anchors Away" is played at the "Miss Croaker" beauty pageant. Uh-huh.

Director Jim Gillespie, I know what you did last summer. You made this piece of shit -- you and Kevin Williamson (Scream), who has written a typical twentysomething script loaded with irony and gender inversions but short on smarts. All of which is sure to play well to the intended demographic. Instead of being passive victims, waiting for the monster to break down doors and put his hook through their blouses, the girls go out and do some detective work to find out who the killer is. And although the female leads showcase an impressive collection of push-up bras, the requisite shower scene belongs to the hunky jock, he of buff abs and boneheaded macho energy. Janet Leigh, eat your heart out!

As with the serial killer film, the slasher deserves either a total overhaul or a complimentary ticket to oblivion. Since no one seems capable of the former, the sooner the latter is accomplished, the better.

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