I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER (1997) Reviews and overview


‘If you’re going to bury the truth, make sure it stays buried…’

I Know What You Did Last Summer is a 1997 American slasher horror feature film directed by Jim Gillespie (Venom; D-Tox) from a screenplay written by Kevin Williamson (The Vampire DiariesVenom; The FacultyScream and sequels), loosely based on the 1973 novel of the same name by Lois Duncan. The plot also draws inspiration from the urban legend known as ‘The Hook’.

The movie stars Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe, and Freddie Prinze Jr.

After Scream, Kevin Williamson was approached to adapt Duncan’s source novel by co-producer Erik Feig. Whereas Williamson’s screenplay for Scream contained prominent elements of satire and self-referentiality, his adaptation of I Know What You Did Last Summer reworked the novel’s central plot to resemble a straightforward 1980s-era slasher film.

The movie was followed by two sequels, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998) and I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer (2006).


On the Fourth of July 1996 in Southport, North Carolina, Julie James and her friends Ray Bronson, Helen Shivers, and Barry Cox drive to the beach after attending a party. While driving along a coastal road, they accidentally hit a pedestrian. After arguing, the group decides to dispose of the body, dumping it in the water. They vow to never again discuss what had happened.

A year later, the friends reconvene when Julie (Jennifer Love Hewitt) receives a frightening letter telling her that their crime was seen.

While pursuing who he thinks is responsible for the letter, Barry (Ryan Phillippe) is run over by a man with a meat hook. The bloodletting continues, as the killer with the hook continues to stalk Julie, Helen (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and Ray (Freddie Prinze Jr.)…


“They put this one in the slasher mold, upped the stakes of the situation, took out the nudity, toned down the gore and made sure that everyone looked like a Sears catalogue model. It looked sharp, moved fast, kept me guessing and most importantly… amused the hell out of me throughout.” Arrow in the Head

“The killer himself is generically scary (though his pranks with corpses are cleverly staged), and the story, by the end, has more holes than the bodies do. There’s no griping about the cast, though: Those slasher potboilers of the late ’80s would have been lucky to feature an actress as fetching and savvy as Party of Five‘s Jennifer Love Hewitt.” Entertainment Weekly

“The film takes place in one of those North Carolina fishing villages and director Jim Gillespie does a good job of making everything look dark, somber, and menacing. That big hook that the killer carries with him always freaks me out. I literally have to shut my eyes when he kills Bridgette Wilson.” Lisa Marie Bowman, Through the Shattered Lens

“Williamson’s script — which contains flashes of Scream‘s wit and clever self-referentiality — clicks along nicely under the guidance of first-time feature director Jim Gillespie. The youngsters all turn in game performances, but the standout is Anne Heche…” TV Guide

” …it pulls too many punches and takes too many dramatic shortcuts to maintain the meatier elements introduced at the outset. Its slasher sensibility lays waste to the more chilling psychological echoes that are the hallmarks of the most enduring horror movies.” Variety

“I can see why some purists don’t warm to this flick; it’s big budget and full of surface gloss and has a preference to build characters and work on dialogue rather than bloodshed in a genre that trades on minimal-everything (except skin). Perhaps they saw it as an insult to the films they held so dear…?” Vegan Voorhees

” …might as well be called Scream 1.5 since it is somewhat similar to it, but it’s still an okay flick that has a decent first two thirds before totally falling apart with its lousy and quite dumb finale. And like Scream the person behind the killing is predictable.” The Video Graveyard

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Main cast and characters:

Jennifer Love Hewitt … Julie James
Sarah Michelle Gellar … Helen Shivers
Ryan Phillippe … Barry Cox
Freddie Prinze Jr. … Ray Bronson
Muse Watson … Benjamin Willis / Fisherman
Bridgette Wilson-Sampras … Elsa Shivers
Anne Heche … Melissa Egan
Johnny Galecki … Max
Stuart Greer … Officer
J. Don Ferguson … MC
Deborah Hobart … Mrs James
Mary McMillan … Mrs Cox
Rasool J’Han … Deb
Dan Albright … Sheriff
Lynda Clark … Pageant Official
Shea Broom … Contestant #1
John Bennes … Old Man
Jennifer Bland … Contestant #2
William Neely … Hank
Jonathan Quint … David Egan

Filming locations:

Shot in Kolmer Gulch, California and Southport, North Carolina, in the spring of 1997.

Technical credits:

101 minutes
Aspect ratio: 2.35: 1


I Know What You Did Last Summer was released theatrically by Columbia Pictures in North America on October 17, 1997.

Box office:

The movie grossed $72 million domestically and remaining at number one on the U.S. box office for three consecutive weeks. It went on to gross an additional $53 million in other markets, making for a total of over $125 million in theatrical returns.

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