Saturday, November 3, 2012

I Know What You Did Last Summer



Four kids that you’d see on Dawson’s Creek or Party of Five back in the 90s are hanging out on Dawson’s Beach (yeah), located near a quaint little North Carolina town (yeah), and happen to cover up a hit and run, plowing the car of volatile asshole Ryan Phillippe (he drops his liquor bottle while screaming out of the sunroof like a buffoon onto the lap of driving pansy Freddie Prinze Jr. who takes his eyes off the road for just like five seconds) into someone, perhaps the mournful kid sitting on a cliff downing some booze named Egan. 



Funny, I had forgotten that little John Gallecki was in this as a kid working the docks who has a thing for final girl Jennifer Love Hewitt, happening to drive up as the four “conspirators” were about to devise a plan to dump the hit and run victim’s body into the ocean, but they successfully avoid his discovering their secret (he does get to cut Prinze down to size, insulting him some which was nice). Gallecki’s Max is a ridiculous red herring that is soon disposed of in quick order getting a hook in his jugular. I am at a loss as to the point of introducing him and executing him in like ten minutes. That’s a slasher for you, even if a tame one with little potency.

Oh, and not long after Phillippe is hit by his car and crashed through a wooden wall, he’s left to live…why exactly? He’s just dispatched later. Why even waste time letting the prick live just to hook stab him later. It isn’t like he develops a personality that gets us to like him any more after the first chance for the maniac in the slicker and fisherman’s hat to gut him like a fish. It does allow Phillippe and Sarah Michelle Gellar to briefly rekindle what that night took from their boyfriend/girlfriend relationship, but as far as any character development on his part, the need to prolong his life span was rather futile.

It seems like when my wife and I went and watched this in the theater while dating that Prinze was in this a lot more than he actually is. He grew up without a father in his life but took up the fisherman’s trade because this town deals specifically on the fishing trade. It very much is a fishing town. Saying that, I don’t remember Sarah Michelle Gellar having a substantially huge part when we went and watched this film, but she does. Her whole chase scene, trying to evade the hook, is rather competently staged. I think out of the cast she actually fares best. At least her demise is heartfelt because she just almost makes it to freedom only to turn around and find the hook-man himself waiting to bury that sharp, pointy object nice and deep. 

You get plenty of weird Anne Heche, attempting desperately to put over an authentic white trash character, but she’s just too Hollywood pretty to make it work…if anything, it feels forced. Anyway, she’s the sister of the supposed car smash, left-for-dead victim, but there’s more to the story than what Hewitt and her posse are led to believe (no, it isn’t that earth-shattering, far from it..). The Egan kid has a girlfriend who died in an accidental car wreck, the victim had a father, and so on and so forth. Director Jim Gillespie does everything visually in his power, accompanied by John Debney’s slasher score (and a lot of screaming, those vocal chords of Gellar and Hewitt’s get a workout), to make the Fisherman get-up, the slicker and hat, and each reappearance of the hook, as menacing as possible.
What are you waiting for, huh?!?!


 This was Jennifer’s “big acting moment” where she gets to spin around in the middle of a neighborhood road, her face deeply caught in a spirit of rage, yelling out to the heavens in a fit of anger. Hewitt can wear a sulk like nobody’s business. She does what she can to convey a guilt-ridden soul in need of salvation. Prinze is, well, Prinze. He seems bored and uninspired to me. That could be because he rarely seems to have a personality. 


This may be the Buffy fan in me, but I think Gellar succeeds the best here; I think she’s the actress with a part that actually starts one place and develops past just a stereotypical conceited prissy diva who cares about her looks and the naïve notion she’ll make it big in New York as an actress. She hits rock bottom, has to work for her incessantly bitchy older sister (Bridgette Wilson) in a clothing store (who, in a snide fashion, mocks her of the lack of success in the Big Apple), and the reminder of the past regarding her cover up of the dumping of a live body in the ocean just adds another layer of rotten to her list of failures. I think hitting bottom resonates with a lot of us and trying to rebound, humbled and a bit humiliated, but hoping to make things right by addressing a year-long misery with her once-friends (I think a strong scene is when Gellar appeals to Hewitt regarding what happened to their once-strong friendship, a question that might seem to have an answer but time, even a year, can have its way with the bond that seems solid..) might right the ship, so to speak. Her death is a tragedy, really, while Hewitt and Prinze get to save the day by meeting the killer, nothing more than a fisherman, nothing extraordinary…without the movie’s flair for establishing his boogeyman presence, outside the slicker and hat, he’s just a mean man who likes to kill those who were unsuccessful in leaving him dead in the water.  


Kevin Williamson’s stock was already starting to decline with this movie, because of how totally serious it takes itself, with really sincere characters deeply troubled (well, except for Phillippe, who just wants to keep his dirty little secret and rich life without interference from those in his party that share what he knows and that psycho) and focused intently on getting the guy before he gets them. Yawn.


I would have included poster art but this was during a period that sucked where lazily the faces of the cast are comprised on the cover. Dull and lifeless as practically all this movie.

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