This is a scary movie of exactly the sort that was punctured and celebrated by last year's Scream. Since it is touted as coming from "the creator of Scream" (screenwriter Kevin Williamson) comparisons are inevitable. But anyone expecting another clever Craven-stained chiller is bound to be disappointed. I Know What You Did Last Summer is much more conventional, although a sharp screenplay, some clever direction, and a clutch of strong performances from its young stars, place it a cut above most slasher films.
Compared with Scream, this is a straightforward killer-with-a-hook story, although Williamson does smarten up the script by turning The Fisherman (a gruesome hooded hook-wielding figure) into an urban legend come to life. It's down to first-time director Jim Gillespie to find scares in this all-too-predictable genre, and fortunately he's more than up to the challenge.
The former make-up artist from Scotland manages to find some heart-stopping scares, even when we know what's coming, which is no easy task. There's more suspense than gore and, in true Hitchcockian style, even the murder scenes leave most of the flesh-gouging, torso-mangling violence to the imagination.
Gillespie also succeeds in drawing strong performances from his cast, especially Jennifer Love Hewitt as Julie and Sarah Michelle Gellar (the lead in TV's Buffy The Vampire Slayer, who also stars in the upcoming Scream 2) as her friend, Helen. They find real complexity in their characters, who are coping with the disappointment of failed dreams even before The Fisherman comes hooking for them. Anne Heche - - recently seen lava-dodging in Volcano and infamous as Ellen DeGeneres' lesbian-come-lately lover - provides a creepy turn as a sultry hillbilly.
Some things in the film are never quite explained, including one murder and the miraculous disappearance of a corpse. But despite this, I Know What You Did Last Summer delivers all the suspense, horror and bloody retribution it promises. What more could you ask? Another Scream? Oh so near, but you'll just have to wait a few more months for that.
There's thrills, blood-spills and edge-of-the-seat tension in this throwback to the '80s teen slasher movie. But while Scream turned genre convention upside-down, this is just a by-the-numbers horror; not nearly as fulfilling as Craven's skilful shocker.