Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with Vern, who is in top form with his review of I'LL ALWAYS KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER, the direct-to-video sequel of that b-level franchise. Once again, my words are meaningless when one as great as Vern is waiting for your attention, so I will give the man his stage. Enjoy!
Howdy fellas -
I'll always know what you did last summer. You wore short sleeves and complained about Star Wars 3 alot. Also, that's the name of the new DTV sequel to I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER. It's from the director of TROIS 3: THE ESCORT and the writer of OCTOPUS 1&2 and stars a bunch of young TV actors I never heard of.
When last we left our heroes (you know, the kids who ran over a guy and then lied about it), they were in the Bahamas fighting against a vengeful fisherman with a hook. There was no need for a surprise twist of who the killer was, it was still the guy with a hook. I believe Jeffrey Combs was involved, the R&B singer Brandy (who your parents used to listen to) survived due to contract negotiations, and an uncredited Jack Black grunted "it's all good" as he was gored to death. I'm sure other things happened but that's what I remember. Then Jennifer Love Hewitt had to leave to prepare for the GARFIELD movies.
That was 8 years ago, so the teens who were mildly entertained by the sequel at that time have blossomed into adulthood. To celebrate this new stage in their lives, Hollywood is giving this audience what they give every generation as it reaches maturity: a replacement group of teenage protagonists. Enjoy.
Obviously, since we're dealing with an entirely new set of characters, the thing that the person knows about what they did 9 or 10 summers ago is not the same thing. At this point even the fisherman is probaly thinking ah fuck it, it's time to move on. So we gotta start out with a new dark secret for some kids to bury.
They figured out a way to tie it in to the old series though. The movie opens at a carnival on the 4th of July, where the new group of teens discuss the legend of the fisherman with the hook who kills people on the 4th of July. Then without warning the fisherman appears and runs through the carnival, scaring the shit out of everyone.
A crowd watches in terror as the killer runs onto the roof and battles P.J., the sheriff's son. This scene is hilarious because P.J., like all teens, is a skateboarder. He uses his board to block the hook and then skates across the roof and does an awesome trick.
Then the lead teens run off and giggle because this whole thing was a prank, their friend was dressed up as the fisherman. The hook he used allegedly belonged to the original fisherman, and he bought it on ebay. Somehow it's not until a little later that they notice that P.J. never landed his awesome skateboard trick, and was impaled on a tractor.
So they bury the costume, they agree that "the secret dies with us," and then we skip to a year later. All the teens are now graduating and talking about moving away and what not, so it is that ripe time of change that horror movies for some reason always have to be about. Then the plot starts to unfold basically the same way as in the first movie, except with one MAJOR twist. Instead of finding a note that says "I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER," she gets a text message!
You see? That's why they had to wait 8 years to make this baby. The technology was not available in the late '90s to pull this story off. They could've done it but the note would've had to be on paper, or an email. And what's the fun of that? Instead the producers did the right thing. They waited until the science was where it needed to be to really give America the type of topnotch storytelling they demand in a sequel they never asked for to a movie they didn't really like all that much in the first place and had mostly forgotten about.
The filmatism here is in some ways better than your standard DTV, in other ways exactly as bad. On the good side, the photography looks pretty nice. It looks like it was shot on location in Colorado or if not at least not in the same spots of L.A. and Vancouver that everything else is shot in. The opening shot is kind of creepy. You hear a creaking sound and after a while you see that it's ski gondolas moving in a breeze on a sunny summer day. That's an unusual image so I was impressed, at least until they came back to the gondolas about 6 or 7 times (one of the characters works and even lives there, at the ski lift place).
The editing on the movie is annoying though, avid farts all over the place. And they commit one of the top sins of bad horror: a fuckin avalanche of fake scares, usually accompanied by some kind of unnatural thunder clap or whoosh or something. In this movie the characters are suddenly startled by:
a cop with a flashlight (WHOOSH!)
some crows flying
a clock radio
the gondolas suddenly turning on
a guy riding a gondola
the sheriff suddenly appearing (BOOM!)
the gondolas turning on again
a guy suddenly appearing with a crowbar so it looks like a hook (BANG!)
a friend sneaking up and tapping somebody on the shoulder
a guy banging a pan
a door opening
When you do those type of things once or twice it seems cheap, especially if it's only the soundtrack that makes it startling. When you do it over and over again, it just makes you look like an asshole. Come on director Sylvain White, you can do better than this. I don't know you but I know the potential of humanity so I know you don't have to be pulling these types of shenanigans. If man can invent text messaging then SURELY he can invent ways to actually be scary instead of just saying BOO! over and over again.
And by the way, speaking of sound effects, there's one thing I'd like to point out to the sound effects people. I know I'm no expert on your field but it has occurred to me before that in order to get the sound of metal striking metal, you need two separate pieces of metal. If you only have one hook, that is not gonna make a metal against metal sound every time you pull it out or swing it around. It's just gonna make the sound of one hook: nothing. Consider that in future productions, please.
I am not recommending this movie, but I do have to admit that after a slow start I did get some good laughs here and there. There's lots of funny-bad dialogue like when a girl says "Would you chill? Nothing's gonna happen in the next 2 minutes." (Actual time before killer appears: 10 seconds.)
The weirdest scene is when a character is overcome by guilt and decides to kill himself. There's a montage where he drinks, has some pills, writes a suicide note, and then starts to slit his wrist with the actual fisherman hook that he got on ebay. Suddenly he is startled by a noise. Hmmm, I'll go investigate, then come back and finish committing suicide. He sees what looks like the silhouette of the fisherman behind a curtain and pulls it open to reveal... a coat. And he says, "Coat."
Of course he ends up getting killed, which is ironic since he was about to kill himself anyway. This is probaly an homage to the opening of SWORD OF DOOM where an old man prays to be taken to the afterlife and then gets murdered by a crazy ronin. Or maybe not.
The one crazy thing that happens that almost makes it dumb enough to be
worth your while is the surprise twist of who the killer is. Sometimes I've
been pretty cavalier about giving away this type of stuff (the guy from
Felicity is the killer, the girl is a guy, he's a ghost, it's people, etc.)
but in a franchise like this that means so much to people on so many
different levels, I'm not gonna
TURN BACK NOW
DON'T DO IT
***ALMOST TO SPOILER ZONE GO AWAY***
LAST THREE CHANCES
OKAY ONE MORE CHANCE TO BE SAFE
TOO BAD YOU BLEW IT HERE IS THE SPOILER
In the last scene Jennifer Love Hewitt runs out, naked from the knees up and covered in blood, swinging the hook and cackling about revenge. Nah just fuckin with you, this is a decoy spoiler. If this had been an actual spoiler she would've had her clothes on.
Okay, enough fucking around. The twist is that the killer is not the Sheriff, not the Sheriff's other sons, not the guilt ridden co-conspirator, not any of the red herrings. It is, in fact, some kind of zombie or ghost of the original fisherman from parts 1 and 2. Because a group of kids kept a secret, it somehow brought him out of the grave, maybe summoned his corpse to swim from the Bahamas to Colorado. (It could happen, he had a year.) So bullets don't hurt him and neither does running over him in the car. But they do have his original murder hook from ebay, and that's the silver bullet. (He has his own separate hook, either it's a ghost hook or he picked up a new one on the way from the Bahamas.)
Although it's the same character it's not Muse Watson anymore, it's Don Shanks, who played Michael Meyers in HALLOWEEN 5. I'm not gonna blame Shanks, but this fisherman doesn't seem like he's trying as hard these days. Very little creative expression involved in his murders. He pretty much just sticks with hooking people. In one part he sneaks up on the beefy Anthony Michael Hall-looking jock guy and hooks his Achilles tendon. But come on, fisherman. The Achilles tendon is the only weakness of ACHILLES. This is a totally different guy, so he survives. Do your research, fisherman.
The closest thing to a creative kill is when he impales a guy on a forklift. But even then he doesn't have to make the effort of driving the forklift into the guy, it just happens to be there with the platform raised to the right level. So he got lucky. (Unless it was him who put the forklift there, maybe he prepared this well in advance, in which case I take back this criticism and tip my hat to the guy for his in-depth planning. But also I'd have to question who parked that tractor that caused this whole new mess in the first place.)
And let's be honest, even in his glory days the fisherman was at best a C-list movie stalker. Even in the annals of hook-users he barely makes it into the top 5. Captain Hook is clearly better, and has the hook for a hand. Candyman is better, and has the hook for a hand, AND has bees inside his chest. And it goes without saying that William Devane in ROLLING THUNDER (who again has the hook for a hand) is better. And for number four, I'd have to go with Kareem for his sky hook. The fisherman does good work on occasion but well below the standard of these 4, not to mention the fact that he has two hands and just holds the hook. Which is kind of cheating.
So anyway. I gotta admit that the basic idea behind these stories is kinda compelling. For an ordinary person, to be responsible for somebody's death and to keep it a secret is a horrible scenario. Man, you never figured on being a murderer, and now all the sudden you got that around your neck for the rest of your life. You can just imagine the guilt of being responsible for something like that and the fear of being found out at any moment. Your life would never be the same, you'd always have it hanging over you. The thing is though, these movies have this theme of personal responsibility, but the heroes never do take responsiblity for their actions. Yeah, they kill the magic zombie fisherman murderer, but their friend is still dead and they still haven't admitted that they did it. They do tell the idiot police department that "I couldn't really see his face. But he's not from around here. Just some crazy guy... He won't bother anybody again." And apparently the police consider that case closed, so there's one loose end they've lied shut.
It seems like this "zombie fisherman who haunts kids who accidentally killed somebody and covered it up" premise is meant to open up the franchise to infinite new possibilities, but there is one problem. Titles. The world will only accept so many I ALSO REMEMBER WHAT YOU OTHER KIDS DID LAST SUMMER type titles before it becomes too silly. At this point it is at the top level of acceptable silliness before it spills over into permanent joke. So the series has four more in it, tops. Maybe five.