Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Movie Review: I Still Know What You Did Last Summer

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Some good stalk and kill sequences
Cons: Too many brainless parts
The Bottom Line:
Rushed slasher sequel
With a plot that falls apart
Turn off brain to watch

“All I Know is This Island Didn’t Have a Murder Rate Until You People Showed Up.”

One of the staples of the slasher genre has been the quick turnaround for a sequel.  While the 90’s resurgence in the genre tried to change many things about the genre, the quick sequel was not one of them.  That’s why, a year after the first came out, we got I Still Know What You Did Last Summer.  It needed more time to iron out some serious plot issues (and considering this is a slasher, that’s saying something).

As the movie opens, it’s been a year since fisherman Ben Willis (Muse Watson) stalked Julie James (Jennifer Love Hewitt) and Ray (Freddie Prinz, Jr.)  and their friends and two years since the four friends hit Ben with their car and left him for dead.  Julie is still struggling through all that has happened, which is why she finds herself struggling with grades while in summer school again and having recurring nightmares.

Things are looking up when her friend and roommate Karla (Brandy) wins a trip for four to the Bahamas over the 4th of July.  When an invited Ray doesn’t show, Julie’s friend Will (Matthew settle) joins Carla, Carla’s boyfriend Tyrell (Mekhi Phifer), and Julie for this trip.  They arrive on the island just before the first storm of the season hits, leaving them stranded as the only guests on the island.  But a message for Julie leaves her convinced that they and the skeleton staff are in danger.  Is she right?  And what happened to Ray?

The film actually gets high marks right away for addressing the tag from the previous film and trying to give us some character development for Julie and Ray.  Unfortunately, in an effort to increase the tension, we get several painfully obvious false scares before we get to the island and the movie really begins.

Now here’s the part where I’m going to be painfully stupid.  One of my problems with this film is all the people who are killed when Julie and Ray are the real targets.  I get that this is a slasher film.  I truly do.  That means lots of people have to die.  But I don’t get why we are going after the people who do die.  In the first film, the collateral damage victims make a little bit of sense, but not quite as much here.  And this doesn’t bother me in the Scream films like it does here, either.  Go figure.

So leaving my personal issues aside, we do get some decent stalk and kill sequences and a mix of sympathetic and annoying characters to be eliminated.  This part is all well done, and when the storm hits and the killing starts, it’s easy to feel the tension building.

Which brings me to the part that feels rushed.  In an effort to provide a twist to the story (required of all slashers, especially during the 90’s), we learn a bit more about Ben, but none of that makes sense.  Even watching the movie knowing what will unfold, it feels like it is forced into the film.

And, despite efforts to set things up earlier, the climax still feels a bit du ex machina for my tastes.  Then there’s one character’s fate, which makes no sense.  Plus don’t get me started on the final scene.  What worked in the first film definitely doesn’t work here.

The acting is still decent, and I don’t find anything to pull me out of the film.  That’s impressive considering the script the cast had to work with.

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that the accident that started the whole rampage was actually two summers ago now, so the title really doesn’t work either.

The thing with 90’s slasher movies is they tried to be more intelligent than the ones that had come during the slasher mania of the 80’s.  Sadly, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer fails in those efforts.  There are still some decent death and chase sequences, so die hards of the genre will want to check it out.  But be sure to turn off your brain before you start watching it.

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