Tuesday, July 27, 2010

What is it About Teenagers and Accidents They Decide to Keep Secret?

I am so bad this summer...sitting around being lazy and doing nothing.  And I mean nothing.  I have no good reason to not write on this thing, but I just forget I have it after a long time and then my mom is calling and asking "You haven't written in your blog in forever!  Are you dead?"  And then I have to say, no I'm alive...I'm just lazy.  I think this laziness of mine is also the reason I keep getting steadily fatter.  Speaking of weight gain, I've got a dinner party planned for Friday.  A small affair, just a handful of close friends for a quiet evening at my place.  Sort of celebrating my return to Chillicothe.  I plan to write about how it goes, as I am doing something for it that I've never done before...and I can't recall if I've heard this idea before or if I really had a flash of inspiration.  Either way, it should be interesting.  But enough about that...lets talk about those horror films where a group of friends finds themselves with an accident or a joke gone awry that ends in a hurt or dead body and they have to cover it up to save their own skins.  What is up with that?  I mean, everyone knows that even after the consequences occur, it would be way better to take the heat than to live with the guilt...and the eventual masked psycho who shows up to get revenge.  I mean really, how dumb and selfish can you be?  Oh wait, we're talking about teenagers here.  So tonight, if you haven't already guessed, I'm going to be talking about Kevin Williamson's first post-Scream project...and the first in an onslaught of clones that tried to copy what Scream had (much like the Friday the 13th and Halloween clones of the 80s).  This one is a bit better than the rest though, so lets dive right in and watch I Know What You Did Last Summer.

The film begins on the 4th of July in the small town of Southport, a coastal town that has a huge fishing culture.  Here we meet Julie James, her boyfriend Ray, her friend Helen, and Helen's boyfriend Barry as they celebrate Helen's winning of the title of Croaker Queen and their last summer before their adult futures begin.  There's some drinking, some storytelling, and some frolicking on the beach and then comes the drive back to town where they have the misfortune of hitting someone who was walking along the side of the road.  Barry, under the influence of alcohol, demands that they dump the body and never tell a soul what happened while Julie champion's the idea that they should go to the police and confess.  Outvoted, Julie reluctantly goes along with the plan and each teen goes their separate ways.  One year later, Julie returns home from college (looking terrible) and receives a cryptic letter that reads "I know what you did last summer..."  Scared and confused, Julie reconnects with Ray, Helen, and Barry and they try to figure out who knows their secret.  Meanwhile, the threats get worse and soon a tall man in a fisherman's slicker who carries a razor sharp hook is stalking and killing them one by one.

This is definitely a suspenseful little sucker, even if it isn't as frightening as Scream and other films before it.  In many ways, this film is a throwback to movies like Prom Night, Terror Train, and My Bloody Valentine due to its usage of the accident/revenge plot.  The film is also loosely based on the novel of the same name by Lois Duncan.  Williamson was brought in to write the screenplay when the book was optioned by Columbia Pictures.  The way Williamson tells it, they told him to keep the title and the characters but write whatever he wanted.  So he used the car accident from the book and changed the stalker to a slicker wearing hook-murderer because of his love of the popular hooked-maniac urban legend.  This does create a more iconic looking villain than the book offered, but some of the mystique is lost due to the changing of the accident.  In the book, Duncan had the kids accidentally run down a young boy on a bicycle which made their crime seem all the more tragic.  There are enough fun little moments in the movie to keep you interested though, like spotting Johnny Galecki of Roseanne fame and Anne Heche in a "what the heck is she doing in this movie" moment.  Williamson also throws in quite a few red herrings, but none really hit us as true clues.  For some reason, I never thought that any of the red herrings were the killer.  Its almost like they were trying too hard to misdirect me from finding out who the killer was and I wasn't buying it.  Oh and there is one completely unmotivated murder early in the film, added because Columbia decided there was too much movie before the first actual on screen death.  Studios...when will they learn?  If you haven't seen this one yet, its definitely worth watching once.  Whether you decide to watch it a second or third time is up to you.

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