'Last Summer' true to formula

November 13, 1998|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,SUN STAFF

They're young and attractive, they wander off by themselves, they scream and they get killed.

Such is the formula of the teen slasher flick, followed slavishly by "I Still Know What You Did Last Summer," a sequel to last summer's surprise hit "I Know What You Did Last Summer."

The film brings back poor Julie James (Jennifer Love Hewitt), the only female survivor of the gang of four who spent a few summers back running over a guy in their car, then dumping the body in the ocean so their stellar careers wouldn't be marred by something as bothersome as manslaughter.

Only they didn't kill anybody; what they did was royally tick off a guy in a rain slicker who specializes in doing gory things with a hook. By the end of the carnage, only Julie and boyfriend Ray (Freddie Prinze Jr.) were left alive.

Predictably, Julie has remained a bit unhinged by her grisly experiences; she goes through her days at college afraid some guy who looks like the Gordon's Fisherman is going to filet her for dinner. And the nights are even worse.

Lucky for her, good friend Karla (Brandy) is devoted to making Julie's life less of a living heck. So, when Karla wins a trip to the Caribbean by identifying the capital of Brazil, she invites Julie -- along with a couple of young studs, Tyrell (Mekhi Phifer) and Will (Matthew Settle).

There, they: A) Meet the most unpleasant hotel staff ever assembled; B) Find out it's off-season, and the island is practically deserted; and C) Hear there's one doozy of a storm a-brewin'.

Sounds like a perfect place for some serious slaying.

There's nothing terribly wrong with "I Still Know What You Did Last Summer," and fans of the genre should have a grand old time, particularly during a dark-and-stormy-night final act staged with claustrophobic panache by director Danny Cannon. Hewitt's got the screaming, vulnerable-but-tough hero act down fine, and the supporting cast looks alternately terrified and defiant as the need arises.

But there's also nothing terribly right with it, either. Despite knowing that there's danger everywhere, people still keep going off by themselves. Screenwriter Trey Callaway tries to throw voodoo into the mix, for no discernible reason. A scene of particular terror involves Julie being trapped by a plastic twist-tie (!?). And this may be the first movie ever to depend on its audience having skipped geography class in school.

Perhaps the worst part: knowing Hollywood, here's betting 1999 will see "I Continue To Know What You Did Last Summer."

'I Still Know ...'

Directed by Danny Cannon

Starring Jennifer Love Hewitt, Brandy, Freddie Prinze Jr.

Released by Columbia

Rated R (violence, language and sexual situations)

Running time 96 minutes

Sun score **

Pub Date: 11/13/98

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