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I STILL KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER (1998)
"We're all gunna die! He's gunna kill us one by one!"
Director: Danny Cannon
Starring: Jennifer Love Hewitt, Freddie Prinze Jr, Brandy Norwood, Mekhi Phifer, Matthew Settle, Muse Watson, Bill Cobbs, Jennifer Esposito, Jeffrey Combs, John Hawkes, Jack Black
Screenplay: Trey Callaway
Synopsis: A year after escaping from the hook-handed killer, Julie James (Jennifer Love Hewitt) suffers a nightmare while dozing during her university class and wakes with a terrified scream. As Julie runs from the room, her friend Will Benson (Matthew Settle), who is worried about her, goes after her. Julie thanks him for his concern, a scene observed by Julie’s boyfriend, Ray Bronson (Freddie Prinze Jr), who has driven up from Southport. Julie assures him that Will is just a friend. Ray asks Julie if she is ready to go to Southport, but she tells him apologetically that she cannot yet face her hometown. Bitterly disappointed, Ray leaves. Julie returns to her apartment where she takes a nap. Some time later, she is woken by the sound of the door shutting. Terrified, Julie takes up the knife she keeps in her bedside drawer and walks softly through the apartment – only to discover that the "intruder" is her roommate, Karla Wilson (Brandy Norwood). Karla insists that Julie try to relax by coming out dancing, and Julie finally agrees. After the girls meet up with Karla’s boyfriend, Tyrell Martin (Mekhi Phifer), Julie is annoyed to discover that Karla has set her up with Will. Reluctantly accepting the situation, Julie is then unnerved by the sight of a rain-slicker clad figure – a figure that no-one else seems to see. Apologising to Will, Julie flees the nightclub. The next morning, Karla receives a phone-call from the local radio station and wins a weekend for four in the Bahamas by answering the question, "What is the capital of Brazil?" Julie rings Ray to invite him, but he is still angry with her, and turns her down. The moment he has hung up the phone, Ray regrets what he has done, telling his friend, Dave (John Hawkes), that he is thinking of asking Julie to marry him. Dave convinces him to drive up to see her again, and offers to go with him. As the two men drive through the night, they see an accident, with a body lying in the road. Ray gets out to see if he can help, and discovers that the "body" is a dummy. The next moment, a rain-slicker clad man swings a razor-sharp hook through the window of Ray’s car, catching Dave through the throat and dragging him into the road. As Ray looks on in horror, the man gets into his car and tries to run him down. Narrowly avoiding being hit by first a truck, then by the mysterious driver, Ray flings himself off the steep edge of the road…. The next morning, Julie is depressed because Ray has not answered any of her messages. Tyrell drives up, and he has Will with him. Julie gives Karla a furious look, but is forced to accept the situation. The four arrive at their destination, Tower Bay Island, to find the hotel nearly deserted. The manager, Mr Brooks (Jeffrey Combs), tells them that they have arrived at the start of the hurricane season, when the resort usually closes, and that there is only a skeleton staff left. He gives them their room keys, and the porter, Estes (Bill Cobbs), helps them with their luggage. Since Karla and Tyrell insist on sharing a room, Julie is forced to share with Will, who tells her he’s happy to sleep on the couch. Meanwhile, Ray is in hospital. The policeman to whom he has told his story dismisses it, as there was no sign of Dave’s body. The doctor confirms that Ray has head trauma, among other injuries. Suddenly, the flatline alarm sounds. Medical personnel hurry to Ray’s room, but the window is open and he has gone…. While the girls get dressed, Will and Tyrell go to the bar, where they encounter the bad-tempered bartender, Nancy (Jennifer Esposito). When Julie and Karla come in, Karla insists on Julie singing karaoke. She finally agrees, launching into "I Will Survive". But suddenly, as she sings, Julie sees the on-screen lyrics change to I STILL KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER.
Comments: In one of this film’s irritatingly pointless body count murders, Titus, the hotel’s pool guy/drug dealer, has had his hand pinned to a table by one blow of Ben Willis’s perpetually sharpened hook. As the killer takes his time selecting a garden tool with which to finish off the supremely annoying Titus, his soon-to-be victim whimpers, "What are you doing? No, seriously, don’t do that!" This dialogue struck me funny at the time, not just because of its inherent lameness, but because it was almost word for word what the rational side of my brain said to me, as I was slipping this film into my VCR.
In his point-form dissection of both I Know What You Did Last Summer and its sequel, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (aka I Don’t Give My Sister’s Black Cat’s Ass What You Did TWO SUMMERS AGO What’s The Matter You Idiots Can’t You COUNT??), Jabootu’s Jason MacIsaac commented that someone had taken him to task for his belief that ISKWYDLS wasn’t Jabootu-worthy. Well, that someone wasn’t me, but having finally seen the film in question, I have to say that I agree with him/her wholeheartedly. This might truly be the dumbest film ever made – and believe me, I don’t mean "dumb" in a fun, entertaining way, but in an out and out painful and insulting way. It’s even dumb enough to make me think that I may have been a tad – just a tad – tough on the original film. At least IKWYDLS has a reasonable premise, even if in the finished product that premise is wrapped in layer upon layer of rich, gooey stupidity. This, on the other hand--- This is moronic from its absolute extremities right down deep into its marrow. That being the case, I am now preparing to snatch up the Bad Movie banner that dropped from Jason’s lifeless hand as he fell before the barrage of badness that is ISKWYDLS and to throw myself into the breach, giving this film the treatment it so richly deserves.
Around this neck of the woods, we have a saying: it is a sign of a truly Bad Film if the opening scene contains any or all of (i) stock footage; (ii) gratuitous nudity; or (iii) a clear look at the movie’s monster. I’d like to add one more item to this list, and say that in my opinion, it is another mark of a truly Bad Film if within the first five seconds – and I am not kidding here, five seconds – you can tell that what you’re looking at is someone’s nightmare. ISKWYDLS opens with the beleaguered Julie James going to confession. As she pours out her troubles to the priest, we notice that her version of the events of the previous two summers insists that it was all "an accident", which rather sidesteps the whole "let’s dump the body" detail, not to mention the deliberate lie to the police at the end of the first film. Finally, Julie brings herself to pronounce the name of the rain-slicker clad, hook-handed killer, who is still pursuing her in her dreams: "Ben Willis". "I know," says the priest. This gives Julie pause. "What do you mean – you know?" At which, the "priest" turns and looks at her. It is, of course, Ben Willis. "I know what you did last summer," he says, and lunges at her with his hook.
At this point Julie, who, it transpires, had fallen asleep in her class at college, jerks awake with a scream. Not a gasp, or a little shriek, but a full-blooded, terrified scream. In response, her lecturer gives her an irritated look, as if she’d just interrupted a witty anecdote he was telling with a coughing fit, and observes sarcastically, "I’m glad you find political science so stimulating, Miss James!", while her classmates – you could hardly call them her friends – all laugh at her, taking no notice of her very real state of distress. Julie, understandably, rushes from the room. She is followed by the only one of her fellow students who showed any concern for her at all, Will Benson. He catches up with her, and she tells him she had "another nightmare", making it clear that she has been confiding her troubles to him for some time. Some kids on bikes toss firecrackers near Julie’s feet as they pass, throwing another scare into her. It is approaching the July 4th weekend, the anniversary of both the striking and dumping of Ben Willis’s "body", and of his murderous rampage a year later. Julie assures the concerned Will that she is all right, then heads for her apartment. Before she gets there, she is stopped by the sound of Ray Bronson’s voice. Julie hugs him tightly, but Ray’s thoughts are elsewhere. "Who was that guy?" Julie, of course, explains that Will is "just a friend", which does nothing to quell Ray’s misgivings. He lets the subject drop, however, and reminds Julie of why he is there. You know, as events transpire in this film, I am on the whole rather on ol’ Ray’s side, but here, I must say, he behaves like an insensitive clod. As he extols the virtues of "crab boiling" and "the Croaker Queen pageant", did it occur to him that Julie might not think of these things with any fondness? Obviously not, as he is taken aback when Julie interrupts with, "Ray, I can’t." She tries to explain that the problem is "all me, it’s in my head", and suggests that he spend the weekend with her there. Ray objects that he has to work, then concludes that she needs her space from him as well as from Southport; and having driven all that way, and spent five minutes with his girlfriend, he then gets into his car and drives all the way home again. (I shall have more to say about the distances covered in this film later on.)
Julie then enters her apartment, and criminy! – it is huge! (Wasn’t there something in the first film about Julie being supported by her struggling widowed mother?) We watch as Julie triple locks the door, and get a look at the alarm on her key-ring. After a brief flirtation with potato chips and Evian, Julie decides to get some sleep. In preparation, she rather oddly takes off her shoes and her top, but leaves her jeans and her bra on. (We shall later discover that sleeping in her bra is a habit of Julie’s – probably because it fits in so well with the franchise’s policy of "As much boob action as possible but no actual nudity, no, no, no".) Some time after dark, Julie is woken by a noise in the apartment. She then does something unprecedented in the annals of the slasher film: she tries to turn a light on! However, since this is a slasher film, we’re not having any of that; and the light blows out. Julie then grabs the butcher’s knife that she keeps in her bedside drawer (as The Offspring would say – She’s got issues), and pads through the apartment, looking for – what? This scene goes on for some time (partly due to the film’s crappy pacing, partly because of the size of the apartment), giving the audience ample opportunity to become intimately acquainted with the annoying score by John Frizzell, and more pertinently, the way in which it will be used. First of all we get a sudden building of the music, leading to – nothing, not even a false scare. This is soon followed by what will be the film’s most frequently used musical motif: a dramatic chord, which will sound every time that something is happening behind Julie’s back; here, as a shadow flits across the wall. Julie turns, but of course, it’s gone. This particular pattern of events will be repeated with irritating frequency throughout the film, ultimately defeating its own purpose. I’m sure we’re supposed to think that Julie is "sensing" what’s going on behind her, but most of the time it seems as if she turns because she hears the chord! Anyhoo, Julie’s lengthy search of her cavernous apartment reaches its climax when there is a slight movement amongst the clothes in a closet. Julie lunges forward, brandishing her knife – and the "intruder" is revealed to be Karla Wilson, Julie’s best friend and roommate.
Yes, that’s right. Julie’s best friend and roommate who knows all about what she did last summer (well, almost); who knows she hasn’t been sleeping, and has nightmares when she does; and that she has three solid locks on her door and a knife in her drawer. And knowing all this, Karla thinks it would be a good idea to sneak into the apartment and wander around in the dark. Bright girl. Bright, considerate girl. (Actually, this sneaking-in bit is by far Karla’s most considerate action in the entire film. At least she might have claimed she was trying to let Julie get some sleep. Might have.) Confronting each other, the two girls scream and scream and scream. "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING IN MY CLOSET!!??" shrieks Julie, not unreasonably. "I thought you were out of town!" Karla protests, eyeing the flashing knife. (Then why didn’t you turn the lights on?) "I just wanted to borrow your black skirt!" (Leaving me to wonder why Julie keeps her clothes as far from her bedroom as possible. Because otherwise we couldn’t have had this riveting scene, I guess.) Julie is less than placated by these lame explanations, but incredibly, Konsiderate Karla just laughs the incident off. She doesn’t even apologise! Instead, believe it or not, she asks Julie what’s wrong!? "I think I hurt Ray’s feelings," Julie finally confesses, and Karla rolls her eyes. We soon learn that Karla isn’t too fond of Ray (mark one up for Ray!). And why? "He’s so – Ray," grumps Karla. "He lives in Southport." Um, so does Julie, doesn’t she? Next thing we know, Karla is speaking suggestively of Will. "There’s nothing between Will and me," objects Julie. "Yet," smirks Karla, and goes on to point out that Ray is there and Will is here, and---- In other words, your boyfriend’s not watching, so why don’t you cheat on him? Nice girl. Really – nice – girl.
More or less against her will, Julie is dragged out to the nightclub where Karla works. And now, my dears, we must brace ourselves, as we are introduced to Tyrell Martin, Karla’s boyfriend, who sets the tone of his entire characterisation with the opening line: "Now, you know what I want to do to you, right?" Actually, I take that back. That would be a tone-setting line, except that it doesn’t have two or three fuck-s scattered throughout it, as does almost every other line of dialogue Tyrell utters in the film. (This may be realistic, but it’s hardly attractive. I once sat behind a guy on the train who managed to say "fuck" sixteen times in eight seconds. I confess to feeling a perverse kind of admiration, but it didn’t exactly make me want to hang out with him.) In Tyrell Martin, we have the apparently inevitable Slasher Film Compleet Arsehole. Bad tempered, foul mouthed, selfish, cruel--- And those are his good points! In fact, he and Karla are a perfectly matched couple. I can’t think of two people I hate quite as thoroughly as I hate those two – or who I so badly wanted to see with a hook through some portion of their anatomies. (Do I get my wish? We’ll have to wait and see….) Karla responds to her boyfriend’s subtle come-on with a pouty, "No, I am not aware of that", which proves to be a tone-setting line of her own. He’s perpetually horny, she’s perpetually disinterested, get it? It’s a joke, son! Karla then tells Tyrell to ask Julie to dance, which he does, reluctantly. Julie doesn’t want to and says so, at which point Karla leans towards her boyfriend and utters a line that brought me closer to throwing something through my television screen than I have been for a long, long time: "No means yes. Don’t listen to her."
Okay…. Deep breaths. Deep breaths….
And if I wanted Karla Wilson hooked before, now I wanted her staked out to an ant’s nest and smeared with honey. And skinned alive. And slowly disembowelled, and then strangled with her own intestines….
Anyway – instead of dancing, they end up wandering through the club until they suddenly encounter--- "Will Benson, lookin’ fine!" chirps Konsiderate Karla. Julie gives her a furious look, but greets Will politely enough. He offers to get her a drink, and leaves her for a moment. During this time, Julie looks upward and sees---a rain-slicker clad figure watching her from a balcony. The next instant he’s gone, of course, leaving Julie increasingly uncertain of her own sanity. A shadow appears on the wall behind her, the dramatic chord sounds, and Julie turns to see---nothing. Will reappears and finds Julie in a state of panic. She apologises to him and rushes out of the club.
I hope you all enjoyed the earlier "Julie hears a noise" scene. The screenwriter and director obviously did, as they now give us a complete replay of it. Julie is woken the next morning by a strange noise. She gets up, and we see that once again, she has slept in her bra. Julie creeps nervously through the apartment, and Karla suddenly jumps out at her with a loud "MORNING!!", taking no notice of Julie’s startled reaction. The strange noise, in a moment that turns out to be a piece of Subtle Foreshadowing, proves to be Karla’s gym shoes in the dryer. The girls get a phone-call: it is the local radio station, telling Karla that she will win a weekend for four in the Bahamas if she can answer the question, "What is the capital of Brazil?" Since Julie and Karla are typical young Americans – better yet, typical young American college students - this sends them into an utter blank panic. (General knowledge aside, Julie is studying political science, isn’t she?). As Karla stalls, Julie rushes around the apartment in a state of hysteria, finally pouncing on a bag of coffee beans. "Rio!" she yells at Karla, who repeats the answer down the phone. "Did you say Rio?" she is asked. "No!" says Karla, then realises she doesn’t have any other answer. "Yes," she concedes – and is told that she has won the prize.
Now – do I deal with this here, or later on? Later, I think….
Winning sends Julie and Karla into a fit of squealing that lasts for about five minutes. During this time, we have the first instance of another of the film’s recurrent motifs: a close shot of Jennifer Love Hewitt’s breasts as they do everything they can to escape their flimsily-built prison. (Brandy gets to jiggle her boobs too, but not nearly so often, nor with so much loving attention from the camera. And while we’re on the subject, check out this film’s poster, and then tell me who you think its real "stars" are.) Julie rings Ray to break the news. He takes it the wrong way, of course (IITS), getting mad because she can go away with her "college friends" but not with him. Julie makes another futile effort to convince him that the problem is Southport, but Ray still refuses to listen (IITS), and Julie hangs up, depressed. Ray’s friend, Dave, who has overheard all of this, rightly calls him an idiot, and demands to know what he’s thinking. "I’ll show you what I’m thinking," Ray responds, and produces a diamond ring from his pocket. Uh, Ray? If you want a girl to marry you, it’s probably not a good idea to show a complete disregard for her various psychological problems. Ray then decides to ring Julie back, but Dave stops him, convincing him it would be a better idea to surprise her. Oh, yeah, great idea – seeing Ray’s got no idea what time Julie is leaving. But Ray agrees (IITS), and Dave offers to drive up with him. "I can kick with my homeys in Cambridge."
Whoa, whoa, WHOA!! Now, admittedly, as an Australian I don’t know all that much about American universities, but still, the word "Cambridge" seems to---well, imply something, doesn’t it? Frankly, the notion that a college in Cambridge might have admitted Julie James and Karla Wilson is harder to believe than anything else that happens over the course of this film. (Well – almost. We haven’t gotten to the film’s backstory yet….)
But the identity of that college in Cambridge aside for the moment, I can only blink in astonishment at the miles ol’ Ray is willing to put on his car in the name of love. Didn’t we previously establish that Southport was in North Carolina? Yet Ray is willing to drive from there to Cambridge and back again in one day, then turn around the next day and do it again! Alas for Ray and his odometer, Karla is meanwhile employed yet again in trying to convince Julie to dump him. "Boy’s got fish on the brain!" Unknowing, Ray and Dave drive through the night until they come upon a car accident, with a body lying in the road. In one of the film’s few – perhaps only - instances of subtlety, Ray clearly has a "flashback" moment here, before getting out of the car to check on the victim. Struggling with himself, he finally pushes back the hood covering the victim’s face – only to discover that it is a dummy. (There’s a lot of it going around.) Realisation dawning, Ray bellows at Dave, but it’s too late: ladies and gentlemen, ol’ hook-hand is back! The hook in question gets slammed through Dave’s mouth and he is dragged from the car and dumped in the road. (Typical. Dave was about the only character in this film I felt even a vague sense of liking for, so by all means, let’s kill him off first!) The killer gets into the car and goes after Ray who, having learnt nothing from the experiences of Barry Cox in the original film, runs down the middle of the road! (Up the slope, you moron!) A truck coming in the other direction nearly skittles him, and so does the killer, but Ray flings himself over the edge of the road and plunges down the slope, finally being knocked unconscious. Naturally, having anticipated that Ray would repent his refusal of Julie’s offer and drive up to see her again, and having gone to all the trouble of lying in wait for Ray on what is apparently the only road between Southport and that college in Cambridge, and setting up his fake traffic accident (didn’t anyone else stop? or did the killer have to pack it up then put it out again every time the wrong car came along? not to mention that he could obviously recognise Ray’s car from a distance and in the dark!), the killer simply leaves without bothering to see whether Ray is dead or not.
The next scene is one of my favourite moments in the film, as we immediately cut to Julie and Karla sitting on their front stoop in broad daylight. I assume it’s meant to be the following morning, but the editing tends to imply that Southport and that college in Cambridge are in different time zones! Julie is still hoping against hope that Ray will show up, despite the fact that he hasn’t answered any of the messages she’s left for him; and Karla is doing what she does best, being a thorough little bitch. "He does work hard," Julie finally offers in Ray’s defence, surprisingly unbothered by Karla’s constant trashing of the man she loves. "Work hard, my ass!" responds Karla. Hell, yeah! A guy who behaves like an adult, and meets his responsibilities--- What girl in her right mind would want that? The next moment, a car pulls up and disgorges Tyrell Martin and Will Benson. Konsiderate Karla immediately starts excusing herself, whining, "Will’s my friend too" and "I didn’t want to waste the ticket!" And who could argue with that? After all, why would you waste a ticket (for which you haven’t paid), when you can avoid it simply by forcing the person who is supposed to be your best friend into an excruciatingly embarrassing position? Julie gives up and simply accepts the situation; and after more squealing – "We’re going to the Bahamas! The Bahamas!" – we cut to a plane (given the position of the sun, we’ve changed time zones yet again!), and discover Will Benson’s fear of flying. As Julie tries to soothe him, Tyrell and Karla take the opportunity to display their compassionate natures. "You’re gunna get hit if you don’t stop bitching!" growls the former, while the latter sniffs, "Some folks jes’ can’t fly." This scene cuts to the boat that is taking the four to Tower Bay Island, and while Julie and Karla do Kate-and-Leonardo [*shudder*], Tyrell pukes his guts over the side, allowing Will to chuckle, "Some people just can’t sail!" Comedy! (Actually Will, if I were you, I think I wouldn’t be standing so immediately downwind of Tyrell….) The four disembark, and are guided to the hotel by Darick, the boathand, who puts on a very broad Jamaican turn, mon! – which disappears the moment the guests are out of earshot. "I gotta work fast, season’s almost over," Darick explains to the skipper of the boat, who replies, "If the weather report’s right, the season’s already over." We then see a sign that reads "Last ferry departs 6.00 pm". (Just so you guys don’t miss any of this film’s subtle intricacies, I will tell you now that these moments turn out to be PLOT POINTS. PLOT POINTS, get it?)
On their way into the hotel, the four kids encounter the appalling Titus, a jive-talking, dreadlocked white guy who is nominally the resort’s pool guy, but actually the local drug dealer (gee – I wonder if Trey Callaway saw True Romance?). The kids laugh off his offer to get them "anything they need" and enter the hotel lobby, only to find the place deserted. After an idiotic scare scene in which they come upon the manager’s Doberman, they meet the manager himself, Mr Brooks (played by a cameoing – and slumming – Jeffrey Combs), who treats them with limitless rudeness for no readily apparent reason. (Hmm….I wonder if he’ll die horribly later on…?) When Julie tries to lighten the moment with a remark about the hotel, Brooks churns out a potted history of the place, which the ever-charming Tyrell interrupts with, "We get it, it’s old." "It’ll outlive you, I’m sure," responds Brooks. (Dear God – please let that be a piece of Subtle Foreshadowing, amen.) An inquiry as to where everyone is elicits an astonishing response: that July 4th marks the end of the holiday season and the beginning of the hurricane season, and that the resort will be closed from that day – with only a "marginally-trained off-season staff of five" left to look after the contest winners.
Where to start, where to start? Leaving aside the financial position of a resort that closes for most of the summer, and even hurricanes that arrive – and depart – like clockwork, if the resort is closing, why wasn’t anyone leaving when the kids arrived? Why was the beach covered with people? Why is the lobby empty? Shouldn’t people be checking out? Why, if the resort is closing, are the kids allowed there at all? And why, why, why does the "marginally-trained off-season staff" include a bartender and a porter??
Short answer? IITS.
Speaking of the porter, Brooks calls Estes to take the kids to their two rooms: 201 and 202, the honeymoon suites. Estes is surprised by this, as "they don’t get used much" – although he assures them that this is for "no particular reason". Cough. Karla explains that they got those rooms for winning a competition. "Guessing the capital of Brazil," chips in Tyrell (guessing, I love that!), and Karla adds, "Rio, baby!" Konsiderate Karla then asks Estes to move her and Tyrell’s luggage into 202. Julie looks at her in horror and hisses, "Karla, you promised!" "Well, I also promised Ty," Julie’s Best Friend responds with a shrug. Will steps in with an offer to sleep on the couch, and Julie reluctantly accepts the situation (although why she didn’t even try to secure a third room is beyond me. By the way, at no time are we given the slightest indication of why Karla is so obsessed with forcing Will on Julie, although I have some thoughts of my own on that subject, which I will share with you later).
Meanwhile, somewhere between Southport and that college in Cambridge, Ray is in hospital with a damaged right arm and "severe head trauma". Ray’s doctor repeats his story to a cop – "his friend was killed by someone named Ben Willis, who has a hook on his hand, and drives a BMW" – and the cop dismisses it without bothering to even check into the existence of Ben Willis or poor Dave. "There was no body," he explains. Yeah – and no blood all over the road either, right? Of course not. The doctor agrees, and the two walk away. The next moment, there is a flatline signal from Ray’s room. Rather comically, his doctor can’t even be bothered breaking out of his slow walk, let alone actually hurrying. But it doesn’t matter: Ray’s not dead, he’s just left via the window.
Back on Tower Bay Island, Will and Tyrell enter the bar and despite having been told the resort is closed, they are astonished to find it deserted. Me, I’d be rather more astonished at finding a bartender present, but so it is. Enter Nancy, aka cannon fodder, who gives both Tyrell and Brooks a run for their money in the unprovoked rudeness department. Ty contemplates ordering a "Mai-motherfucking-Tai", and Nancy responds by asking to see some ID. As the kids stare at her in horror, she adds, "Just kidding" – thus signing her own death warrant, I imagine. (Actually, this crossed my mind during the nightclub scene: isn’t 21 the legal drinking age in most parts of the US?) Will asks Nancy what she’s doing there. "None of your goddamn business," she snaps, which Ty translates as "man trouble". (Am I the only one who believes that Trey Callaway couldn’t think of a reason for her to be there?) Julie and Karla enter the bar, talking Men. Julie confesses she’s missing Ray, while Karla tells her that "Ray made up his own mind, which leaves you free to make up your own mind". So – a couple being apart for any reason is an invitation for infidelity? I’ll have to remember that. The girls join the guys and they drink to their weekend. Being asked by Karla what people do for fun there, Nancy points out the karaoke machine, which the four pounce on delightedly. Karla, ever thoughtful, pushes the reluctant Julie into singing (JLH was trying to launch a singing career round about then, wasn’t she?) and picks her out a song, "I Will Survive", which I really hope was a general commentary on Julie’s situation, not another dig at Ray. Julie gets into her routine as the others clap and cheer, only to stop dead as the lyrics disappear from the teleprompter, to be replaced by I STILL KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER. Despite the fact that the prompter is facing the others, and the words are written in red letters about six inches high, none of the other three see them, surprise! Julie goes into a panic, and finally makes a run for her room.
I know nothing about karaoke machines, so I won’t comment on the mechanics of this scene. I will ask, however – when was that machine tampered with? And how did the killer know they’d play with it? Or that it would be Julie who sang? And what were the odds that none of the other three would see the altered lyrics?
In her room, the nervous Julie finds a note with her name on it. She approaches it, picks it up, and opens it, all ve-ery slowly. SURPRISE! it reads. The next instant, Will speaks from behind poor Julie, frightening her half to death, which in turn startles him into dropping the champagne glasses he was holding. Incredibly, here we have a second person to whom Julie has confided her troubles, who also thinks that sneaking up on her would be a really good idea! (I’d like to know where Will got those red roses – not to mention, since the guys reached the bar before the girls, and Julie got back to the room before Will, how he managed to put that note there!) Julie is touched by Will’s gesture of champagne and flowers, but is too panicky to respond, blurting out an apology. The disappointed Will accepts this and leaves her alone. Meanwhile, Tyrell and Karla are not having sex in their room, ha, ha! He’s lying there, and she’s standing over him, bouncing up and down to – test out the bed, I guess. And of course, at first the audience thinks they’re having sex. Only they’re not having sex. Got it? Tyrell does make a grab for her, but Karla wriggles away, telling him she spent $100 on a new swimsuit and wants to wear it. (If you could afford that, you selfish, inconsiderate little bitch, you could have afforded a separate room for your best friend!) Down on the dock, Darick is securing a boat against the coming storm, while someone sneaks up on him…. It is the endlessly annoying Titus, who informs Darick that there is a "kickass party" on the mainland, and he thinks they should take the boat and "get jiggy wid it". Darick refuses and Titus goes off in a huff. The next moment, a rope starts to tighten around Darick’s ankle, and he is knocked into the water. As he tries to climb out, someone looms over him. The hook flashes, and – Pointless Body Count Murder #2. Pointless Body Count Murder #3 (the most pointless of all the film’s murders) follows almost immediately, as a cleaner (who we earlier glimpsed very briefly in the lobby) discovers that the sheets in her trolley are soaked in blood. (We can only infer that Darick’s body was moved in the trolley – it’s certainly never explained.) As the cleaner gapes at the bloodstains in horror, a door opens and - whack! #3! The cleaner’s body is lifted into the room from which the killer emerged, and the door is shut, revealing a Do Not Disturb sign on the knob. Comedy!
(And gee! – what a missed opportunity for a great tagline! "Don’t disturb Ben Willis – he already is!")
Meanwhile, Tyrell and Karla are not having sex in the Jacuzzi, ha, ha, ha! It almost looks like they might, but then Titus drops into the pool next to them. They manage to get rid of him, and then they almost have sex again, only this time, Will interrupts them! Ha, ha, ha, HA!! Then we cross back to Julie, who is in the shower when she hears – what do you think? Aw, go on, take a wild guess! That’s right! – a noise in her room! (Imaginative writer, Trey Callaway, dontcha think? At least this time it isn’t Karla….) Donning a clingy robe (hmm….cold shower, Jules?), Julie wanders through the room and checks the corridor before returning to the bathroom. There, she wipes the condensation from the mirror, then bends over so that she’s not looking into it to dry her hair. Ah, but we are looking into it, aren’t we? – and we see the Mysterious Shadowy Figure that crosses the room behind Julie. The next instant, that damned dramatic chord sounds, and then Julie looks around – but sees and hears nothing. (I’ll say this for Ben Willis: for a big man wearing a full-length rain-slicker and work-boots, he sure does move fast and silent!) Still, convinced that something is wrong, Julie does another slo-oo-oow search of her room. (Apart from all the other things wrong with this movie, its pacing is terrible. All of the "scare" scenes, whether real or false, take about twice as long as necessary to play out.) Anyway, Julie finally hears a creaking noise from a closet. She approaches it slo-oo-oowly, as the music builds, throws open the doors and sees---nothing. Not yet. Then blood begins to drip onto the floor. A moment later, Darick’s butchered body plunges down into her sight, hanging from a rope. (Nice trick, Ben – I’d really like to know how you rigged that one! And may I compliment the Tower Bay Island Hotel on its astonishingly tall and spacious closets?) Julie screams bloody murder, of course (ha, ha!), and dashes out of the hotel and across the lawns to her friends in the Jacuzzi. All four of them, plus Brooks, rush back to the room where they find---look, I’m not going to type it! You, know it, I know it. "It’s happening again!" we heard Julie shriek, and she is right. The damn thing’s gone, okay? With all the physical evidence. And anyone watching this film who was even the tiniest bit surprised by that should be drummed out of the Bad Film Watcher’s Brigade.
It did occur to me to wonder, however, what would happen if instead of running away, a character in a slasher film who had discovered a dead body just stood their ground, and simply screamed and screamed until someone came? What if they didn’t give the killer a chance to remove the body? Would the universe implode, do you think?
"I knew you people were going to be trouble," Brooks groans, dismissing Julie’s story. Nancy sticks her head in to see what’s going on, at which point Tyrell’s shining good nature asserts itself again. "Julie says she saw some dead guy in the closet, but all we see is bathrobes!" he tells her sarcastically. Julie defends herself angrily, and Tyrell stands over her and jeers, "Oh, yeah? Then where is he now, Julie? Where is he now? HUH?" Um – have I mentioned that I really hate this guy? Julie turns to Brooks and demands to be taken off the island, only to be told that "the last ferry left a couple of hours ago". She then tries to phone for help, but Brooks cuts in with "the phones just went down". (Julie doesn’t believe him, of course, but it turns out to be true.) The others finally begin to get nervous, with Karla asking about the radio. "Only in emergencies". "What do you call this?" demands Karla, setting herself up for the response: "I call this four spoilt city kids who wouldn’t know a hurricane if it blew up their ass!" And sure enough, the storm hits right on cue. We then cut to Estes, who is up in his room doing that voodoo that he does do---not all that well, as it later turns out.
To interject for a moment, I find the way the film’s minor characters are used intensely irritating. We know that Ben Willis is the killer; there’s no doubt whatsoever about it; so why do Brooks and Nancy and Estes keep behaving so damn suspiciously? If you’re going to include red-herring characters, Trey, old boy, at least fudge the issue of the killer’s identity a tiny bit!
Titus, on the other hand, is not a red herring; he is simply a pain in the butt. But no matter – good ol’ Ben Willis is about to take care of that, courtesy of his hook and a pair of garden shears. Thank you, Ben! Meanwhile, Ray (severe head trauma and all) is trying to find a pawnshop. (May I say how impressed I am that Ray managed to dress himself, despite wearing one of those strapped-to-your-body arm slings?) He finally staggers into one and gives the owner Julie’s engagement ring. The guy offers him $250, Ray demands $300, adding, "And throw in that, too", pointing to a handgun (I can only assume that the ring is worth a lot more than either $250 or $300!). The guy tells him that there’s a waiting period, Ray insists, "I’m not waiting!" and the guy, unbelievably, hands over the gun! (It would have served him right if Ray had then pointed the damn thing at him and demanded all his money! Actually, what this scene really made me think of is the moment in The Simpsons when Homer is trying to buy a gun and, when told of the waiting period, yells, "I’d kill you if I had a gun right now!") The transaction completed, Ray staggers off into the night. We later learn that he’s hopped a bus to Miami (what was I saying about distances travelled?), and is rushing to Julie’s rescue. Personally, I have to wonder why he was so sure that Ben Willis knew where Julie was? Wouldn’t "Wow, thank God Julie’s safe in the Bahamas!" have been a more logical reaction? Oh, yeah, that’s right – severe head trauma. (I wonder what Trey Callaway’s excuse is…?)
Morning breaks on Tower Bay Island, and we find that the four kids have slept in one of the beds together (ah – that’s why they needed such "big-ass beds"). Julie is wide awake. Tyrell, who still hasn’t had sex, of course, is in an even fouler mood than usual. Julie gets up (surprise! she slept in her bra!) and looks out the window, and Tyrell starts right in on her. "Another beautiful day in paradise, with Julie as tour director! Miss Psychotic Episode! See any bodies out there? Any fresh kill?" Goddammit, you are a prick, Tyrell! In fact, I concluded about now that Tyrell was the biggest shit in the history of the world, since I was assuming that while they were all stuck together for the night, Julie would have explained what was (or what she thought was) going on; and that Tyrell’s sensitive little speech was made despite his knowing that either (i) there was a psycho killer on the loose; or (ii) Julie was suffering from genuine and severe psychological problems. But no – we don’t get that scene until later on. So what did they talk about, I wonder? (By the way, we notice that Konsiderate Karla forced Julie to sleep [or lie awake] beside Will, the order being Julie, Will, Tyrell, Karla, when it surely should have been Julie, Karla, Tyrell, Will.) Tyrell continues mouthing off until, amazingly, Karla and Will actually object. Thank you. Karla then suggests that "you guys find yourselves something to do", while she hugs and comforts Julie. Yes, really! Tyrell takes this suggestion as you might imagine: "I don’t wanna do something with him, I wanna do something with you!" (I will say this for Tyrell: at least you can’t accuse him of pretending to be interested in Karla’s mind in order to get into her pants.) Karla, of course, ignores this, and carries Julie off to the gym to "work off that stress". So Tyrell and Will head off---somewhere, I don’t know where they’re going. I do know, however, that this is one piss-poor excuse for a hurricane. It’s raining heavily, sure – so what? Will mistakenly tries to make conversation with Tyrell, saying something about the Greenhouse Effect, to which Tyrell responds by bellowing, "Shut up, okay? SHUT UP!!" Not an environmentalist, we assume.
Meanwhile, the girls enter the gym, where Karla leads Julie into the solarium, suggesting that she hop into the tanning bed. In perhaps the film’s least credible moment (and that covers some ground!), Julie agrees. She strips off her clothes and down to her bikini (we get a nice long lingering shot of her breasts), climbs in, puts on an eye-shield so she can’t see, a Walkman so she can’t hear (where’d she get that? – she wasn’t carrying it when she entered the gym), and closes the tanning bed. Now, does anyone out there believe that a girl in Julie’s emotional state would actually do this? Karla is next door, working out with a punching bag, when she hears a Strange Noise. (Yes, it’s another Strange Noise In the Next Room! The fourth one!! But hey, this time Karla hears it – originality!) Karla investigates, and finds that something is slamming around in an industrial-sized dryer. (Three guesses….) She opens it up and sure enough – it’s our first "find the body" scene. (This is a freaky moment. I could have sworn it was Titus in the dryer. It still looks like it even when you know it isn’t! It’s actually the cleaning lady.) Karla screams – and as we shall see, apparently continues to scream for some time. We cut to Will and Tyrell, who are looking for Titus, who knows why? Anyway, they find him…. Cut back to Julie in her tanning bed, oblivious to all of this. The solarium doors open, and we see rain dripping from a slicker and two muddy boots. As Ben Willis walks slowly (as always) towards Julie, we get a suggestive close-up of his hook; but you didn’t actually think he’d just kill her, did you? Just because she’s lying there, nearly naked and completely vulnerable? Of course not. Instead, Ben locks Julie’s tanning bed shut with one of those plastic tie thingies (don’t leave home without one!) and turns the power up to a lethal dose. (Would someone, in the name of The Great God Jabootu, kindly explain to me why anyone would build a tanning bed capable of delivering other than a safe dose!!??) Another dramatic chord sounds here, which seems to get Julie’s attention. She strips off her eye-shield and her earphones, and calls for Karla. When there is no response, she tries to open the bed, only to realise she’s trapped. She then freaks out utterly. (Okay, credit where it’s due: I found this situation quite disturbing. I imagine that anyone who is even mildly claustrophobic, as I am, would.) Cut to Will and Tyrell, on the lawn in front of Titus’s cabin. Why they’re there, I don’t know (actually, I think they’re throwing up). They hear one or other of the girls screaming, and rush off. Cut to Karla, who has either been staring at the cleaning lady’s corpse and screaming for a good five minutes, or is meant to have only just found it. (Damn, this section of the film is badly put together!) With the camera back on her, Karla finally bolts, only to find that she’s locked in. (Why didn’t you kill her, Ben? Ya let me down, man….) Will and Tyrell smash a window and haul her out, and the three of them rush in to Julie, who is completely hysterical. And then we get one of the film’s comic highlights, as everyone runs around in a panic for about two minutes, trying to rip the tanning bed open before finally smashing it open, but without one of them thinking it might be a good idea to TURN THE DAMN THING OFF!!!! The only thing that beats this in the comedy stakes is that hysterical, screaming, sobbing Julie not only makes a point of picking her clothes up before bolting from the gym, but stops to get dressed (including putting her sneakers on!), before running to the manager’s office with the others.
"Brooks, where the FUCK you at!" Tyrell roars, slamming into the building. "I want the FUCK off this island!" Brooks, alas, is beyond caring: he’s behind his desk with a machete buried in his head. (Anyone know a better way of endearing a film to horror fans than stealing effects from Day Of The Dead?) On the wall behind him, the words I STILL KNOW are scrawled in some of the fakest "blood" I’ve ever seen; while nearby, the hotel’s radio is smashed. (Why, yes, it is the only one on the island, thank you for asking!) Julie stares at this and then bolts for the dock, the others running after her. But the boats have been cut loose. "You wanna tell us what the FUCK is going on?" yells Tyrell. And Julie does tell him, provoking a wholly unexpected exclamation of, "Oh, FUCK!" "Ben Willis is dead," Karla reminds her. "They never found the body," Julie confesses, and re-hashes the plot of IKWYDLS. Now, at this point you might think that Tyrell would realise that Julie is not, in fact, nuts, but rather has been right all along about there being a killer on the island. But Tyrell’s not the kind of guy to let a little thing like that shut him up. While conceding that there is a killer, it obviously cannot be who Julie says it is, but must be someone else entirely – and he lights on Estes, since he is the "only guy who’s missing". (Nancy is also missing, lest we forget, but Tyrell never considers for a second that a woman could be the psycho killer. [Heh! I’d like to hear Dario Argento on that point!]) "FUCKER knows SOMETHING! Now, we can sit here like assholes waiting for him to pick us off," Tyrell continues – hey, Tyrell! – you’re an asshole wherever you are! – "or we can go find him!" Julie makes one more effort to convince him that it isn’t Estes, and gets "FUCK THAT!!" bellowed in her face for her trouble. Will agrees with Tyrell and the two men go on the hunt. Karla, meanwhile, has been cut to the heart by the fact that Julie didn’t tell her that Ben Willis’s body was never found (and why wouldn’t she have told her?). "I’m your best friend," she huffs. Well, Karla, I can’t believe you’d pick this moment to make an issue out of it! – firstly, because of what we’ve seen of your idea of "best friend behaviour", and secondly because there’s a killer on the loose, remember?
Tyrell now takes charge of the situation, which allows all of his sterling personal qualities to come to the fore. "Hey, Estes! Hey, you sick BASTARD!" he shouts, bursting into the porter’s room. "You in here? Huh? YOU HEAR ME?" He then sees a table covered with Estes’ voodoo paraphernalia, which he immediately sweeps to the floor and smashes. (That’s real nice, Tyrell. Would you have done that if he’d been Catholic?) Looking around, Tyrell lights upon a mounted monkey skull – which proves to be the clincher. "Oh, yeah, no doubt," pronounces Sherlock Holmes. "This is our fucking killer! This is our fucking guy!" (Jeez Louise! I’m glad he never got to see some of the stuff I’ve had in my rooms over the years! If he’d seen those pickled shark embryos I used to keep in my bedroom, he’d probably have had me strung up!) Julie then finds an altar, on which lies small personal items that each of the four kids had previously noticed missing. Will breathes "Shit!", while Tyrell---well, let’s just say he exercises his extensive vocabulary once again. The discovery of the altar convinces the others – even Julie! – that Tyrell is right. Not stopping for so much as a second to consider that (i) voodoo is a religion; (ii) "voodoo", as commonly conceived, is about getting "other forces" to do your dirty work, not doing it yourself; and (iii) it is the people whose possessions are on the altar who have not been gruesomely murdered, the four decide to hunt down the "killer".
(The other thing that might well be considered at this point is that the scene in Estes’ room ate up a full two minutes of screentime without having one damn thing to do with what is actually going on!)
But before the hunt can truly commence, it is first necessary that Julie should stop and change her clothes again. Most necessary indeed, as she now dons the item of clothing that more than anything else, sums up the thought and consideration that went into the planning of this movie: a thin white shirt held together in the front by a single button – which just happens to be directly beneath her breasts. What else would the well-dressed young Final Girl wear while being hunted by a psychotic killer? I mean, with the screaming, and the panting, and the running around, and all…. The four kids are quite set upon finding the "killer" before they themselves can be killed, and to prove it, they immediately split up. Julie and Karla are left in the lobby ("It’s safer!") while Tyrell and Will search for weapons. At that moment – and I’m surprised they waited this long – the power goes out. While pacing nervously, Julie sees the huge globe that decorates part of the lobby. Sudden misgivings seizing her, she turns it until she is looking at Brazil - and its capital---
"Brasilia," says a voice at her side, as that damned dramatic chord sounds again. "Not Rio." And Karla screams as the girls find themselves alone with Estes.
Okay – time out, while we mull over a few things.
I guess the big question is, was the audience supposed to know that the girls’ answer to the question was wrong? It seems to me that the film-makers were playing a very dangerous game here. After all, everyone who knew that the correct answer was "Brasilia" has (as I know from experience) been sitting there for the past half an hour, impatiently enduring false scares, red herring characters, and other extraneous matters that we already know don’t have anything to do with the real story. Under such circumstances, it is impossible that any real tension or suspense could be generated – even the crudest, "where’s the body?" kind. Having your audience that far ahead of your characters generates nothing but irritation and contempt; a feeling in no way mitigated by the frank display of ignorance on the part of the two students of that college in Cambridge. But to be completely honest, I’m not sure that the audience was supposed to know. My suspicion is that Danny Cannon and Trey Callaway thought this revelation would provoke a gasp of surprise from their audience, all of whom would be just as certain as Julie and Karla that "Rio" was the correct answer. (I can just picture the two of them pitching ISKWYDLS to the studio as an educational film: "Sure, they’ll see lots of their contemporaries being horribly murdered, but hey! – they’ll learn something, too!") Either way, the relationship between film-maker and audience is a fairly insulting one.
And then there’s Estes’ role in the proceedings. As you might recall, Karla and Tyrell told him about "winning" the weekend when he was taking their luggage to their rooms. Which he means that he knew that something was badly wrong when there was still time for the kids to get off the island – but he didn’t say anything until after the bodies started to pile up. One word – one hint – and Julie at least would have been out of there like a rat out of an aqueduct. But of course, then we wouldn’t have had a movie, would we…?
Karla’s screaming brings Tyrell and Will, who attack Estes. Julie intervenes, suddenly re-convinced that Ben Willis is behind everything (duh!). This of course provokes a heated argument between her and Tyrell. While she makes her case, Julie emphasises what she’s saying by throwing her arms out and back – which along with her nervous, backward steps, almost propels her breasts through the narrow gap above that single button. Almost. "We didn’t even answer the radio question right!" she cries [bounce-a-bounce-a]. "The whole thing was a set-up!" [bounce-a-bounce-a] "So where is this Ben Willis guy?" demands Tyrell. When Julie admits she doesn’t know, he yells, "You never fucking know!" Estes interrupts, announcing that he knows who they’re talking about. "He used to work here at the hotel. Lately, I’ve seen him out in the woods." (Ah, you might want to keep that last remark in mind, people, in view of revelations soon to follow.) Estes then offers to show the kids something in those woods. They hesitate, until Julie argues that "We’ll be better off out in the open" – an entirely sensible observation which, naturally, no-one will act upon before the body count has lifted considerably.
Meanwhile, on the mainland, a boat owner is about to have his evening’s TV viewing rudely interrupted. Know what he’s watching, BTW? Night Of The Demon. Yup, that’s right. There’s a clip from Night Of The Demon in I Still Know What You Did Last Summer. It’s like stepping on a steaming pile of dogshit and finding a diamond inside. This painful moment comes to an end when ol’ Ray barges in and demands a boat, backing his "request" up with his gun.
Estes leads the kids through the woods, filling them in on Ben Willis – how he worked there for many years and raised a family. "Pretty wife. Two little ones. A boy and a girl." One day, Mrs Willis disappeared – although blood was found "all over the honeymoon suite". The body was eventually discovered – "pieces of it" – but Ben and the kids vanished. Now, I’m not up on the laws governing the Bahamas, but I assume murder is murder wherever it happens; so if Estes has seen Ben Willis "out in the woods" lately, why didn’t he call the police? Oh, yeah – cos then we wouldn’t have had a movie, would we…? Anyhoo, the five of them reach their destination: a small graveyard. The camera pans across, and we see markers for Susan Willis (the wife) and Sarah Willis (the daughter). The third grave – still open – has its marker inscribed in blood (remarkably stable blood, too, considering it’s been raining for the past twenty-four hours!): Julie James, it reads, 1979-1998. Julie stares at this, and utters one of the most incredible lines of dialogue in the history of motion pictures: "What’s the date?"
WHAT’S THE DATE!!?? WHAT’S THE DATE!!!???
IT’S JULY 4TH, YOU UNBELIEVABLE IDIOT, WHAT DO YOU THINK THE DATE IS???? OR HAVEN’T YOU BEEN PAYING ATTENTION????
I’m sorry. I’m sorry. It’s just…. My brain….really….hurts….
Karla does answer "July 4th", which provokes the movie’s defining moment: a re-working of the classic [*cough*] "What are you waiting for?" scene from IKWYDLS. Soaked to the skin, clad in that tight crop top, with her thin white shirt ju-uu-ust held together at the front by that single heroic button, Julie throws her arms and head back, and her breasts forward, as far as she possibly can and yells, "I’m not gunna die on this island!" [bounce-a-bounce-a-bounce-a] "Do you hear me?" [bounce-a-bounce-a-BOUNCE-a] "If you want me, Ben, I’m right here!" [BOUNCE-A-BOUNCE-A-BOUNCE-A-BOUNCE-A] (I keep having this mental image of that unfortunate button finally giving way under a strain that no mortal button should have been asked to bear, and being hurled across the set with the sound like a pistol shot as Jennifer Love Hewitt’s breasts finally broke free; and of the film’s costume designer shaking his head sadly and saying, "That button had only one day left until retirement ….")
Karla points out that this challenge probably isn’t wise, given how they’re trapped on the island, and all. "Then we fight," snarls Julie. Hey, I’ve got an even better idea! How about the five of you stay together in one place? You know – safety in numbers? We are, after all, dealing with the killer in a slasher movie, who isn’t going to do anything as sensible as, say, pull a gun, and thus be able to kill from a distance. (This is exacerbated by the fact that Ben likes to kill with his hook-hand, which he can’t even throw. BTW, Ben’s killing implement in this film appears to be a prosthetic hook, which he has had attached in place of the hand he lost in the first film. Who installed that? – Nick Riviera?) Nope, this guy has to get up close and personal to kill – and you substantially outnumber him. So why not just sit tight until someone on the mainland realises something’s wrong on the island and sends help?
Oh, yeah – cos then….
Anyway, five is soon whittled down to four as Estes vanishes. Four becomes three when Will decides "he’s the only one who can help us!" and separates from the others to go after him. Julie, Karla and Tyrell return to the hotel to arm themselves. Tyrell sees the despairing look on Julie’s face and, amazingly (and inconsistently) enough, suffers a twinge of regret for his treatment of her. "We’re gunna get this fucker, right?" he reassures her, then announces his intention of inspecting the pantry. "You think that’s a good place to hide?" asks Karla. "No, I’m just fucking hungry," replies Tyrell, back to normal. Will, meanwhile, finds Estes pulling a rowboat into the water. As Will demands to know what he’s doing, Estes picks up and oar and clubs Will down with it…. Back in the hotel, the trio – gasp! – hear a Mysterious Noise from the pantry. They brace themselves to face – a Spring-Loaded Rat!! The girls shriek, Tyrell relaxes – and the next moment Nancy appears, wielding a baseball bat, which she swings at Tyrell’s head. YOU GO, GIRL!! Sadly, the other two girls intervene before Nancy can finish the job (and frankly, I doubt the baseball bat has been built that could make an impression on that skull….)
Out on the stormy seas, Ray sheds his sling (!!) and tries to radio for help, but naturally he can’t get through. (Might have been a good idea to do that while you were onshore, hey, Ray?) Back in the hotel, Tyrell and Nancy are swapping abuse, in which Nancy gets the last word. "Excuse me, this place didn’t have a body count until you people showed up!" She then demands to know what’s going on, at which Tyrell exclaims, with a gesture at Julie, "Oh, here we go! Don’t even get her started, all right?" GodDAMMIT, you are an incredible prick, Tyrell!! "All I know is," Mr Personality continues, " this is the worst vacation of my life. I’m tired, I’m hungry, I’m fucking horny, and personally, I haven’t seen one goddamn psycho killer!"
At which point, Ben Willis leans down from somewhere above Tyrell, and slams his hook clean through his throat.
YES!!!! YES!!!! OH GOD, YES!!!!!!
You know - I’m really not a vindictive person. I’m certainly not a violent one. But man, I just wanted to see that son of a bitch die so bad…. The problem was, I wasn’t sure it was going to happen. The writing in these kinds of films is so bloody awful these days, that you can’t tell the difference any more between the characters we’re supposed to like, and those we’re not. So many screenwriters seem to think that a character being rude, obnoxious and callous is unbearably funny (rather than just plain unbearable), that I couldn’t quite rid myself of the suspicion that Tyrell was meant to be this film’s Odious Comic Relief© - and we all know to our cost how infrequently they die. So while one part of me kept saying, hey, he’s an arsehole in a slasher film, and he’s done nothing else from his first moment onscreen but try to have sex, so he’ll die for sure, another frightened part of me was whispering, Wanna make a bet…?
I will say this for I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, though: whatever the reasoning behind Tyrell’s demise, I am utterly certain that it wasn’t because he was black….and it isn’t every horror movie I could say that about.
Despite Julie’s bravado and her proclaimed intention of standing and fighting, Tyrell’s bloody death sends the three girls rushing through the hotel in screaming hysterics – even though they still outnumber the killer three to one. (The laws of the slasher film universe decree, of course, that confronting the killer can only happen when it’s one on one.) If we needed any proof that Scream, that so-called slasher film "satire", had no impact whatsoever on the making of slasher films, we get it in the next scene, as Julie, Karla and Nancy run upstairs instead of going outside. (Uh, Julie? Hello? "We’ll be better off out in the open", remember?) Ben Willis follows slo-owly, yet always manages to be about six inches behind them. The girls make it into an attic, chiefly because if they locked themselves into an ordinary room, they’d be perfectly safe. This choice of refuge allows Karla first to put her foot through the floor, so that Ben can slo-owly creep up on her, and then for the pair of them to plunge through the floor into the room beneath – Suite 201 – Julie’s room – where Mrs Willis was butchered to death. As Ben swings his hook, Karla plunges out of the window, and finds herself on the glass roof of a greenhouse. Now, personally, if I’d been Karla, I would have stayed right where I was – no-one could get to me there, after all, could they? But no, Karla’s got to try and get off there – and she doesn’t even know enough to lie down and distribute her weight. (Even Homer Simpson knew to do that! [Hmm, my third Simpsons reference – get the feeling I’d rather be watching something else…?]) In fact, Karla doesn’t even step on the frames of the glass plates, but directly onto the glass itself. Unsurprisingly, this sends her crashing through the roof and onto a collection of pot plants beneath – a little incident from which she emerges bruised but without a scratch. Seeing all this from a window, Julie and Nancy run to the rescue, with Julie holding a torch over her head to provide another instance of bounce-a-bounce-a. Karla finds the doors of the greenhouse sealed with a chain and padlock. Nancy produces a bunch of keys and tries to get her out, as Ben Willis delivers what might just be the absolute slowest instance of "closing in on a potential victim" ever seen in a slasher film. In fact, there’s time for Nancy to struggle with the keys, and for Julie to locate a fire axe, bash through a window, and haul Karla out of the greenhouse before Ben can cross the room! And when this is done, the girls run away, in spite of the fact that (i) it’s still three on one; (ii) those three are all young, fit and reasonably strong; and (iii) they are now armed with an axe!
Now they run outside, and head for the storm shelter, I suppose intending to hide out there. Nancy tries to find the emergency power switch, while Julie tells Karla to hold her hand. "I am," insists Karla. A beat passes, then – "No, you’re not," replies Julie. (Oh, whacko! Not content with hauling Night Of The Demon into this idiotic movie, now they’ve got to try and taint The Haunting, too!) The lights go on and - surprise! – all the dead bodies have been moved there, so we and the girls can discover them all over again! (It is thanks to the Voorhees Unreality Engine©, of course, that no-one ever stumbles across a puffing, panting psycho killer while he’s hauling his victims all over the place.) The three girls scream and scream, until an ominous figure looms up in the doorway. It’s – Will, wielding a hunk of wood. The girls follow him out. Julie notices that he’s covered in blood, and he explains that Estes attacked him. He then suggests that they go inside. Nancy baulks at this, but Will insists that he saw "the slicker guy" down by the beach. As he speaks, Will takes the axe from Julie and tosses it away. Worried about Will’s injury, Julie demands a first aid kit. Nancy – very reluctantly – goes to get one, but only after Karla agrees to accompany her. (Being the only one present with a shred of common sense, naturally Nancy will soon die.) Julie continues to fuss over Will’s wound – until she realises he doesn’t have one. "That’s because it’s not my blood," says Will quietly. Julie stares at him in slowly – very slowly – dawning horror, and Will smiles…. "What’s your favourite radio station, Julie?" he asks her. As she backs away in terror, Will grabs her and drags her out of the building.
Nancy and Karla have just found the first aid kit when Estes looms up on them – with a spike through his body. He staggers and falls forward, trapping Nancy beneath himself. The next instant, Ben Willis himself looms up – and drives that spike further through Estes and into Nancy, who dies instantly. (People in slasher films die of everything instantly, you notice? In reality, with an injury like that, Nancy would lie there in agony for some considerable time before she croaked. And this is true, of course, of most of Ben’s victims.) Ben then goes after Karla who backs away and, as he swings his hook, crashes through another glass door. She lies there as he moves in on her….
Meanwhile, Will is dragging Julie back to the cemetery (and quite frankly, considering the circumstances, she’s not putting up much of a struggle!). Naturally, having revealed himself to be a psycho, Will now cannot open his mouth without uttering some idiotic wisecrack. (Did I say Scream had no influence on this film? Wrong! This entire sequence is completely ripped-off from it!) "Look on the bright side, Julie! We’ll finally get to spend some quality time together!" "Why are you doing this to me?" pleads Julie. "Me, me, me, me!" protests Will. "It’s always about you. I’m having bad dreams. I can’t sleep. I’m not doing well in school. I’m having trouble with my boyfriend." "I trusted you!" Julie cries, obviously not realising that starting a sentence with "I" at this point probably isn’t a good idea. "Oh, you are so much like the rest of them!" Will sneers. "You never take responsibility for anything you do, and you think you can get away with murder." Suddenly, Julie produces a knife from her pocket (to which, I may say, she has had access since Will first grabbed her!). But having done so, does she jam it between his ribs? No. She just pokes him in the arm with it, then allows him to simply take it away from her. He slams her in the gut and starts hauling her along again, allowing the conversation, momentarily interrupted, to resume. "Tell me why?" Julie wails. "Why?" repeats Will. "Come on, Jules, think about it! You’ll get it!" When she doesn’t, however, he actually releases her – and she just stands there – as he says distinctly, "Will Benson."
And she still doesn’t get it!! Instead, this shining light of that college in Cambridge simply stares at him blankly, until Will finally spells out to her in words of one syllable what’s been screamingly obvious to everyone in the audience for at least the past hour: "BEN’S SON."
Let’s think this through, shall we?
In IKWYDLS, a girl named Sarah Willis dies in a car crash. Her father, Ben, blames the driver, Sarah’s boyfriend David Egan, for her death. Maddened by grief, Ben murders David, tossing his body off the cliffs over Southport and leaving a "suicide" note. On his way back from this deed, Ben is hit by the car carrying Julie and her friends. Believing they’ve killed him, the four decide to throw his "body" into the water. When a body washes ashore a few days later, it is identified as that of David Egan – which is who Julie et al. think they’ve killed. Ben Willis, of course, isn’t dead – and a year later, begins his campaign against the four.
Now, this is silly enough, in its way. After all, Ben Willis got away with murder. Why would he jeopardise that by going after the four? Still, there is a certain solidity, even dignity, in the lingering mental image of the man driven to desperation by the death of his daughter.
But ISKWYDLS defaecates all over that, reducing Ben Willis from a credible grieving father to yet another common or garden career psycho. Here we’re supposed to believe that, having survived death for the third time (at the cost of his hand), Ben plots a, shall we say, elaborate revenge. We assume he wants Julie and Ray dead, but instead of just killing them, he has his son enroll in the same college as Julie, take all the same classes, and worm his way into her confidence. Then he arranges a "weekend for four", stages the fake radio contest, flies only one of his desired victims all the way to the Bahamas (along with two people who have nothing to do with anything), doesn’t kill the other potential victim when he has the chance, and then slaughters half a dozen extraneous people but doesn’t bother to kill the one person for whom he has arranged all this – no matter how many opportunities he has! And what about all those side issues? Like the fact that Ben committed murder when he was first living on the island? And yet was living in Southport under his own name, with two children who must have known he killed their mother! (I’m pretty sure there was no mention of a brother in Sarah’s obituary, by the way.) Or the fact that Ben flew his daughter’s body (or had it flown) from Southport to Tower Bay Island, where he is, presumably, still wanted for murder. Or the fact that despite being "just a fisherman" (which has been spoken of with horror and contempt through both films) since arriving in Southport, and by inference out of work for the past year, Ben can afford to send his son to Julie’s college, and pay for the transport and accommodation of the four kids (oh, and drive a BMW)! Or the fact that the place Ben chooses to stage his revenge is the very place where he is still wanted for murder! Or the fact that for this ridiculous, convoluted, impossible "plot" to succeed, Ben has to rely on Julie agreeing to go in the first place, Ray not agreeing to go in the second place, and above all, Karla taking Will along.
And then there’s Will himself, just blithely going along with all of this, despite his father having murdered his mother! (Oh, but then she’d been cheating on her husband, it’s suggested, so she deserved it. [Hello, Scream strikes again….]) And bearing, I might add, the stupidest, most transparent pseudonym in the history of film. (I suppose I should be grateful he didn’t call himself Neb Silliw. Not that his name was any more of a giveaway than his behaviour. After all, Will treated Julie nicely, while everyone else was cruel, self-centred and inconsiderate. If that isn’t a clear sign that he was a psychopath, rather than a normal young American, I’m sure I don’t know what is.) In the first place (internally), I simply do not believe that Julie, in her advanced state of paranoia, wouldn’t have reacted to the name "Will Benson". In the second place (externally), this, like the whole Rio/Brasilia business, assumes that the audience is as dumb as a box of rocks. In fact, what we have here is a whole new definition of an Idiot Picture© - not one in which the plot can only proceed if everyone in the film is an idiot, but rather one in which the plot can only proceed if everyone watching the film is an idiot.
"Hi, Dad!" says Will cheerfully, as Ben appears out of the darkness to grab Julie. "No more screaming. No more running," Ben tells her. "Time to die." (Oh, for chrissake! Bladerunner too!?) Just then--- "Let her go!" demands Ray, levelling his gun. Ben doesn’t, but immediately starts taunting Ray, calling him "boy" a lot, and finally coming out with the classic, "You don’t have it in you!" Ray does, thankfully, pull the trigger – but the gun doesn’t fire. Will then attacks Ray and they struggle, the gun flying free. Julie bites Ben’s hand, and he releases her. Ray gets the best of the fight, almost punching Will’s face through the back of his head (wow, that arm got better in a hurry!), until Will charges and knocks Ray to the ground, kicking him repeatedly in his already battered ribs. Grabbing Ray by the collar, Will hisses, "I want you to think about all the things we’re gunna do to her" – which is the only thing even approaching an explanation for why all the attempts on Julie’s life have been so inept. They weren’t really trying. "Stand him up," orders Ben, and Will does. Ben goes for the long run-up, and swings his hook. At the very last instant, Ray slams an elbow into Will’s face and jumps aside, and the hook buries itself deep in Will’s body. The two Willises, senior and junior, look mournfully at each other for a moment before Junior drops dead. Ben stares at his bloody hook, then howls – and swings it at Ray. But before it connects, a shot rings out. We find that Ray’s gun is in Julie’s hand, and now working remarkably well – even unbelievably well – as it manages to fire eight shots despite being (as the audience has been given ample opportunity to observe) a revolver.
"JUST – FUCKING – DIE!!" Julie chokes out as she empties her distinctly overloaded gun into her adversary, and Ben Willis falls dead (?) into the grave that he had prepared for her. Oh, irony!
The killers being vanquished, the hurricane immediately disappears, and a beautiful sunny day dawns. Julie and Ray stagger back to the hotel, and suddenly a helicopter appears. It is the coastguard, promising that a rescue party is on the way. (Um, who alerted them? If it was the guy whose boat Ray stole, shouldn’t the police be on the way?) Then Karla limps out of the hotel. Hey – wait a minute! WHY ISN’T SHE DEAD?? Damn you, Ben Willis, you incompetent---!! Karla and Julie embrace, and then Karla says awkwardly, "Good ol’ Ray, huh?" – actually having the grace to look ashamed of herself. Then the two girls hug some more. "If anyone asks," jokes Karla, apparently having shrugged off the whole business, including her boyfriend’s bloody death (not that I really blame her for that), "let’s not tell them it rained the whole time!" "It’ll be our little secret," promises Julie. Oh, Julie! – will you never learn!
We then cut to a lovely home in a lovely neighbourhood on a lovely day, where Ray and Julie are Playing House. (This entirely senseless coda provides us with another classic example of how crappily this film is put together: in a real Eh? moment, we cut from Julie entering the house in broad daylight to her walking upstairs saying, "Why didn’t you tell me it was so late? I almost fell asleep on the couch!") Julie climbs into bed, beaming happily as she looks around her new home. And then – she hears A Mysterious Noise In The Next Room.
"Ray?" she calls, but he doesn’t respond; he’s too busy rhapsodising over his electric toothbrush. So Julie sets out on a very slo-oo-oo-ow search of the house. Meanwhile, Ray bends over to spit, and the bathroom door is locked behind him…. Downstairs, Julie shuts a window, but doesn’t notice the muddy footprints on the floor. She looks in a wardrobe, wanders through a few more rooms, then sits on her bed. And beneath that bed, Ben Willis suddenly appears. Julie is hooked around the ankle, and dragged down, screaming. Fade To Black.
So, what was this? Was Ben Willis not dead after all? Or was it a nightmare? Or a premonition? Or the cheesy set-up for yet another goddamn sequel? I don’t know – and frankly, my dears, I don’t give a damn.
URRGGGHHH!! AACKK!! UURRRRGGGGHHHH!!!! (You can’t see me, of course, but I’m doing that thing where you slam the ball of your palm against the side of your head.) UURRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!
What a crapfest. And tell me, seriously, can you think of any film, ever, with a stupider backstory? And this is supposed to be scary? The whole thing is so sloppy, so moronic, that I just know it was a case of last minute re-writes – and I actually have some fairly firm suspicions about the earlier versions of the story.
When you write a review like this, you generally end up watching the film at least two or three times. The first time you do nothing but moan, "Oh, this is so stupid!", but later on, your brain tends to start re-writing the screenplay and filling in the gaps. It’s a defence mechanism – a mental barrier thrown up against the waves of deadly, infiltrating dumbness emanating from the film. On my second viewing of ISKWYDLS, it occurred to me that the whole ridiculous contest thing would make sense if – and only if – Karla was in on it all along. Maybe Karla was Sarah Willis’s best friend. Think about it: that would explain why she kept trying to break up Julie and Ray, and force Julie and Will together; why she kept doing everything she could to frighten Julie half to death; why she pressured Julie into singing karaoke; why the answer to the contest question didn’t matter; and how Ben could be quite certain that both Julie and Will, and not Ray, would end up in the Bahamas. It would also explain why Ben didn’t kill her – despite having three opportunities of doing so. Of course, this version would require Ben Willis to be paying college fees for Will and Karla (hey, I’m not saying it makes sense! - just more sense!), but since money’s clearly no object…. And maybe Tyrell was in on it too, and that’s why he was such a relentless bastard. This scenario would also explain the unseen karaoke message: it wasn’t unseen at all.
So my suspicion is that there’s an earlier draft of the screenplay out there somewhere in which Karla plays a very different role. But you know what? I think there’s also a still earlier one – one in which I Still Know What You Did Last Summer was a much darker, much more downbeat, much more interesting film; a film in which all of the horror was taking place in Julie James’s mind.
There’s plenty of evidence for this view early on in the film. We know Julie is completely neurotic. We also know that she still hasn’t come to terms with her role in the events of the previous two summers, as evidenced by her insisting in the opening sequence that it was "an accident". Then she starts seeing things – Ben Willis where he clearly couldn’t be; words on a teleprompter that no-one else sees…. Also, as the film stands, the role played by Will Benson makes no sense at all. If he’s nuts, if he’s setting Julie up – why is there so much indication that he’s genuinely falling for her? – for instance, check out the way he looks at her when she enters the bar, and isn’t looking at him. I think ISKWYDLS was originally intended to be about Julie’s mental breakdown; and I’ve also good a good idea of how it was meant to end: with Julie suddenly snapping. "Will Benson. Ben’s son! My God! You’re Ben Willis’s son!" – and then she hacks him to death with the butcher’s knife she keeps by her bed, only to discover that he was, in fact, just a poor schmuck named Will Benson, who was unfortunate enough to enroll in a college near Cambridge, to take political science, and to fall for a girl named Julie James….
But I guess that was just too much of a downer. And instead of what might have been a fairly absorbing study of a girl’s mental disintegration, we have perhaps the dumbest and least frightening, most ill-conceived and misbegotten excuse for a horror movie that ever befouled the inner workings of my VCR.
Afterthought: To give the devil his due, there's one good moment in I Still Know What You Did Last Summer. Just one. When the kids are on their plane and Will begins having a panic attack, Julie tries to sooth him by suggesting, "Think of something happy from your childhood."
"What if I don't have anything happy from childhood?" blurts Will.
It is, as I say, a nice moment, a tiny island of emotional sincerity surrounded by a vast ocean of utterly artificial nonsense. Trouble is, it belongs in neither the version of the film that they gave us nor in the alternative version that I dreamed up for myself. These words could be spoken neither by BEN'S SON, wisecracking psycho killer, nor by Will Benson, innocent bystander. This can only be "Ben's son" speaking, the unhappy child of a killer. Which makes me think that there was yet another draft of this story, one in which Ben Willis's son appointed himself Julie James's protector and became the one thing standing between her and his homicidal father. And that, too, would have been infinitely more interesting than the rubbish they finally served up.