I Know What You Did Last Summer is a 1997 American slasher film based on the 1973 novel of the same name by Lois Duncan. The film changes many aspects of the book, which was not a slasher novel. The film also draws inspiration from the Urban Legend known as The Hook.
The film stars Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe and Freddie Prinze Jr., with Anne Heche and Bridgette Wilson appearing in supporting roles. I Know What You Did Last Summer centers on four friends who are being stalked by a killer, one year after covering up a car accident in which they were involved. The film was directed by Jim Gillespie, from a screenplay written by Kevin Williamson, writer of Scream.
I Know What You Did Last Summer received mixed reviews from critics, but was highly commercially successful, grossing over $125 million at the box office. It was also nominated for and won multiple awards. As a result the film has been parodied and referenced in popular culture.
The film was followed by two sequels, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998) and the straight-to-DVD release I'll Always Know What You Did Last Summer (2006). Though the former film sees a continuation of the plotline established in its predecessor, the latter film establishes a new plotline and does not star any cast members from the previous two installments.
On July 4, 1996, four high-school seniors - Julie, her boyfriend Ray, Julie's best friend Helen, and her boyfriend Barry - drive to an isolated beach after drinking at a party. They talk about their futures, then discuss the urban legend about a young couple who find a hook attached to their car door. Ray, the only sober member of the group, drives them home. Distracted by Barry spilling alcohol in the car, Ray accidentally hits a random stranger on the road.
The group argues over what has happened, knowing the police will not believe it was an accident. Another vehicle appears in the distance. The driver is another local teenager, Max. Julie convinces him they just had car trouble and he drives on. Barry suggests they dispose of the body. Julie feels that they should go to the police, but Barry, drunk and enraged, demands that no one be told, and Helen takes his side. They take the body down to the nearby docks and prepare to dump it in the water; however, the man suddenly revives and attacks them before falling into the ocean and presumably drowning.
One year later, college freshman Julie is home for the summer and her mother notices that she seems distant. One morning Julie's mother gives her a letter that arrived with no return address; inside is a folded piece of paper with the message: "I Know What You Did Last Summer!" Panicked that their secret got out, Julie contacts Helen and Barry. Barry claims that nobody can know but Julie recalls how Max drove by.
Barry immediately suspects Max and the trio head down to the docks where Max works as a fisherman. They also find Ray working on a fishing boat. He tries to patch up his broken relationship with Julie, but she runs off. Barry boards Max's boat to talk to him in private. Max claims to have no idea what Barry is talking about but Barry gets carried away and threatens Max with a hook. Soon after that, Max is impaled through the chin by a figure in a rain slicker with a hook.
Later that evening, Barry works out at the gym. He hears a sound in the locker room but sees nothing until he returns to his locker, where he finds a Polaroid photo of his BMW with a message written on the back: "I know." Rushing out of the locker room, Barry sees his car back off down the road. He chases it and the driver tries to run him down. The driver, wearing a dark fisherman's rainslicker and wielding a large hook, gets out and stands over him. Barry ends up in the hospital but is unable to tell the police anything about the person's identity other than that he wore a black rainslicker and carried a hook.
Julie reveals that she has been doing some investigating and explains that the name of the person they hit was David Egan. Thinking that David survived and is staying with a local relative, Julie and Helen head out to the Egans' residence deep in the inland swamps. There, Julie and Helen find David's moody older sister Missy, who explains that David's death devastated their family. Both girls have been thinking that Missy was behind the attack, but after talking with her they decide that she wasn't. Missy tells them that someone called "Billy Blue" came by to pay respects after David died, claiming to be his friend.
Helen returns to her home that night and prepares for the annual Fourth of July parade the next morning. She does not notice the fisherman sneaking into her house through the back door, going upstairs and hiding in her bedroom closet. The next morning, she is horrified to see that someone has slashed her hair in the night and written "Soon" in lipstick on her vanity mirror.
Helen calls Barry and Julie to hurry over. On her way, Julie hears a strange sound coming from her car and upon opening the trunk she finds Max's dead body, covered in crabs and Barry's missing jacket. She quickly gets Helen and Barry but when they come outside, the trunk is empty. Barry and Helen assume Julie was hallucinating. Julie, Helen, and Barry confront Ray about the recent events, which Barry thinks that Ray is behind. Ray strongly denies it and claims that whoever knows is after him too; he received a similar letter.
As Helen and Barry participate in the Fourth of July parade, Barry keeps an eye out for the killer, but notices that there are several people wearing the same kind of dark rainslicker. Chasing one, Barry leaves Helen on one of the parade floats. As it passes by a two-story building, she notices a shadowy figure in a black rainslicker wield a hook threateningly as the float passes by.
At the annual Croaker Pageant, Helen's reign as Croaker Queen is about to end. Watching from an upstairs balcony, Barry is attacked. Helen screams when she sees the killer pull Barry into the shadows and stabs him to death with the hook. She rushes upstairs with a police officer, but they find no sign of the killer or Barry. The officer thinks Helen imagined it and offers to take her home. When their road is blocked by a stalled truck engine, the officer gets out to investigate but is killed by a dark figure with a hook. Helen escapes and rushes to her family's store, where her sister Elsa lets her in. Helen demands that Elsa lock all the doors, but before Elsa can finish doing that, the killer enters through a side door and slashes her throat. The killer then chases Helen out of the store, down an alley, and he pushes her near a pile of used tires, viciously slashing her to her death a few steps away from the in-progress parade.
Meanwhile, Julie revisits Missy to ask her more about David Egan and "Billy Blue". Missy tells Julie that David is dead and shows her a suicide note he left. As the writing matches that of the note she received, Julie tries to convince Missy that her brother is not dead. Upset by Julie's ravings, Missy orders her to leave. Back in town, Julie is further researching David Egan's death. A year before the accident, he and his girlfriend Susie were involved in a car crash not far from the scene of the foursome's accident. David survived, but Susie died. The research mentions Susie's father, Ben Willis. Julie then puts the pieces together: They did not run over David Egan that night but Ben, who had killed David and disposed of the body that night.
Julie goes to the docks to tell Ray but he doesn't believe her theory. As they talk, she notices the name of the boat he's working on: "Billy Blue." Julie panicks, thinking that Ray is the murderer, and runs off. As Ray chases her, a fisherman stops him and puts her on his boat for safety. She looks around the boat and finds a room that contains photos and articles about her, Helen, Barry, and Ray and realizes that she is on Ben Willis' boat. Ben sets the boat adrift and chases Julie through the boat. Eventually, Julie winds up in the fish storage freezer, where she finds the corpses of Max, Helen, and Barry.
Regaining consciousness, Ray catches up to Ben's boat with a motorboat. He uses the ship's rigging to save Julie, causing Ben to lose his hook-carrying arm as he plummets over the side. All that is found of Ben is the severed arm with the hook in the hand. When the police question Julie and Ray, they deny having any idea why Ben would have wanted to kill them.
A year later, Julie is getting ready to return to her hometown for another summer to see Ray. As she enters the showers, she notices that one of the steamy glass doors has the sentence "I still know." written on it. As she looks around, a dark figure crashes through the door at her.
Jennifer Love Hewitt as Julie James,
Sarah Michelle Gellar as Helen Shivers,
Ryan Phillippe as Barry William Cox,
Freddie Prinze, Jr. Ray Bronson,
Bridgette Wilson as Elsa Shivers,
Anne Heche as Missy Egan,
Muse Watson as Ben Willis,
Johnny Galecki as Max Neurick,
Stuart Greer as Officer David Caporizon,
The film produced two soundtracks. One of them featured the score composed by John Debney, while the other contained various rock songs found in the film.
A New Beginning (Julie's Theme) 1:52,
Barry's Underwater Adventure 2:33,
Crabhouse Gaffing 1:10,
Someone's Watchin'/Chased 3:26,
Missy's Story 2:10,
The Houseguest 1:57,
A Little 'Trim'/Trunk Surprise 3:12,
His Name Was.../Car Trouble 3:29,
Hiding the Body 3:15,
In Pursuit of Helen 2:50,
The Note 1:39,
Gaffing Barry/Missy's Home 3:19,
No Escape For Helen 2:32,
Julie Discovers the Truth 3:21,
The Night Softly Whispers 1:49,
Fond Memories 0:43,
Julie Takes a Cruise 2:56,
Taking a Stand 1:09,
Final Confrontation 4:03,
Julie Takes a Shower 1:20,
"Hush" by Kula Shaker (2:55),
"Summer Breeze" by Type O Negative (4:57),
"D.U.I." by The Offspring (2:26),
"Kid" by Green Apple Quick Step (3:17),
"This Ain't the Summer of Love" by L7 (3:09),
"Losin' It" by Soul Asylum (3:01),
"Hey Bulldog" by Toad the Wet Sprocket (2:31),
"My Baby's Got the Strangest Ways" by Southern Culture on the Skids (3:59),
"Waterfall" by The Din Pedals (3:47),
"Clumsy" by Our Lady Peace (4:27),
"One Hundred Days" by Flick (3:40),
"Great Life" by Goatboy (3:50),
"2 Wicky" by Hooverphonic (4:44),
"Don't Mean Anything" by Adam Cohen (3:43),
"Proud" by Korn (3:17),
The film received mostly mixed-to-negative reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, 36% of comments were positive. In another review, Metacritic reported an aggregate score of 52 out of 100. Critic Roger Ebert wrote in his review, "The best shot in this film is the first one. Not a good sign."
Jennifer Love Hewitt was praised for her performance as Julie James by an Entertainment Weekly columnist stating that Hewitt knows how to scream with soul.
I Know What You Did Last Summer has been released on DVD and Blu-ray. Special features include an audio commentary by the filmmakers, a 'making-of' featurette, a music video and a short film directed by Jim Gillespie.
Awards and nominations:
Top Box Office Films, John Debney
Best Horror Film
Blockbuster Entertainment Award
Favorite Female Newcomer, Favorite Actress, Jennifer Love Hewitt
Favorite Supporting Actress - Horror, Sarah Michelle Gellar
Favorite Actor - Horror, Freddie Prinze Jr.
Favorite Actress - Horror, Jennifer Love Hewitt
Favorite Supporting Actor, Ryan Phillippe
MTV Movie Awards
Best Breakthrough Performance, Sarah Michelle Gellar
Young Artist Award
Best Performance in a Feature Film - Leading Young Actress, Jennifer Love Hewitt