After the success of I Know What You Did Last Summer in 1997, a sequel film was quickly greenlit, making its arrival on screen in 1998. Aptly titled, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, the film follows Julie James (Jennifer Love Hewitt) as she attends summer classes a year after the events of the first movie. It was followed by yet another sequel titled I'll Always Know What You Did Last Summer in 2006, but this one didn’t feature any of the previous cast and was a direct-to-video that was fairly easy to forget. The trilogy even inspired a TV series of the same name which was picked up by Prime Video, but unfortunately canceled after one season. The series does have the same main incident as the original story, but it changes things up for a more modern-day audience and is much more stretched out to accompany a season-long order.
Now, following the success of other horror franchise revivals such as Scream, Halloween, and Chucky, another sequel to I Know What You Did Last Summer is reportedly in the works with Jennifer Kaytin Robinson set to direct. Unlike the most recent sequel in the trilogy though, Jennifer Love Hewitt and Freddie Prinze Jr. are in talks to reprise their roles. But while the third film may get a bad rep, and the idea of another film that will potentially be starring the original cast members is certainly exciting, it’s time to give the film’s original sequel another shot. Because it’s better than you remember.
'I Still Know What You Did Last Summer' Changes Up the Scenery
While the small-town feel of the original film adds to the horror of the story, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer opts for a change of scenery — and not just to college or another town. No, this time we’re going to The Bahamas. With Julie now in Boston taking summer classes and suffering from nightmares of that horrific summer that claimed the lives of her friends, her roommate convinces her to come along on a vacation she’s won through a local radio station. But just when you think this will be a fun vacay movie, the trauma Julie endured the summer before follows her and her friends.
The Bahamas may not seem like an ideal setting for a horror movie, after all, what’s so scary about palm trees and sandy beaches? However, it actually ends up working perfectly and arguably works as a better setting for the film’s premise. The fact that this crime is following Julie — even on vacation — is horrifying, and feels inescapable. Especially when the group finds out that storm season started the very day they arrived, upping the stakes for survival against both a killer and the elements.
A Star-Studded Cast Elevates the Sequel
The most notable thing about I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, though, is the sheer star power in its cast. Not only did it bring back Hewitt and Prinze in their previous roles, but it also starred an uncredited Jack Black in one of his first more significant movie roles. Brandy also claimed a role in the film, starring as Karla, Julie’s roommate, and stealing the show with her stellar performance. After fan-favorite Helen (Sarah Michelle Gellar) died in the original film, Karla stepped in as Julie’s new confidant, and while Helen’s absence was surely missed, Brandy is incredible in the role and brought a brilliant sense of humor and likability to the character that only elevates the movie.
It’s a Near Perfect Sequel
There’s no denying that I Know What You Did Last Summer is a classic slasher; it’s fun, and it has a great cast and a compelling story. But it does sometimes fall off, which is why plenty of fans, including myself, regard I Still Know What You Did Last Summer as the best film in the trilogy. Sure, it has its flaws, as every film does, but given how it follows a relatively similar plot to its predecessor, it managed to stand out on its own and bring a unique perspective that grabs the viewer's attention and holds it. It’s arguably the scarier of the two as well, given that it’s in such a remote destination, and during storm season, to boot. So much of the action takes place in shadowy areas and torrential downpours of rain.
But while the plot may be similar, it does manage to change things up just enough to not feel like a complete rehash of the original. It’s found out late in the film that the group's friend, Will Benson (Matthew Settle), is actually the killer in a chilling scene where he asks Julie what her favorite radio station is — revealing that he was the radio host that gathered Julie and her friends onto the island. Will is revealed to be Ben’s (Muse Watson) son — Ben being the fisherman Julie and her friends accidentally killed in the first film — and in another shocking twist, Ben is also revealed to still be alive. It all ends in a struggle between Ray, Ben, Will, and Julie that results in Ben shooting his own son, and being shot down by Julie as he stands distraught and in shock. Perhaps it all sounds ridiculous on paper, but what works so well about the film is that it doesn’t take itself quite as seriously as its predecessor. It knows it’s a horror movie, and it leans into that, but it also knows it’s a campy slasher people are watching for fun. It’s why it noticeably has more humor and clever nods, and it’s a nice contrast to the tense scenes throughout.
All in all, it’s certainly not a perfect movie, but it’s a strong sequel, and when it comes to the horror genre, that unfortunately isn’t always the case. While another sequel is both nerve-wracking and exciting, here’s hoping the creators take notes from both I Know What You Did Last Summer and I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, and consider each film’s strong points to create an even better sequel. Oh, and get Brandy on board too, please!