‘I Know What You Did Last Summer’ Is The Slasher Series We’ve All Been Waiting For – Review￼
By Angel Amaral
I know what you should binge watch this fall just in time for spooky season. Amazon’s I Know What You Did Last Summer series is a reboot of the slasher movie from the ’90s. The original cult classic stars Jennifer Love-Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Freddie Prinze Jr., and Ryan Phillippe. The story focuses on a group of teenagers in a thrilling fable of morality. Bound by a freak accident, they are stalked and terrorized a year later by a serial killer who knows exactly what they did last summer.
As campy as that sounds, the original movie has masterful sequences of suspense and tension, especially the unforgettable chase scene with Sarah Michelle Gellar. The revival of the franchise couldn’t have come at a better time as we are seeing a resurgence of the slasher genre with the return of Michael Myers in Halloween Kills, Ghostface in Scream 5, and Chucky with his own show. After seeing the first four episodes, I assure you that I Know What You Did Last Summer is the slasher series we’ve all been waiting for as it sets up what is sure to be a memorable villain with a killer body count.
Every effective slasher movie needs a great villain. All the great villains have an ominous, magnetic, and mysterious presence lurking on and off screen. I Know What You Did Last Summer, is no exception to that horror rule. In the original movie, the antagonist is a hook-wielding maniac on a vengeful quest. Although the show takes creative liberties from the original story, the serial killer feels just as dangerous here, especially by the end of the second episode with one of the most brutal deaths I’ve witnessed. The scene was so graphic it legitimately lifted me off of my couch. They found a way to structure this story as a series with abrupt cliffhangers that make you want to watch the next part immediately, as all good series should do. Awaiting the killer reveal has me hooked.
Besides the gripping serial killer narrative that we all sheepishly gravitate towards, I appreciate several factors that work well like the powerful thematic elements and performances. For example, this show makes drastic changes to the circumstances surrounding the tragic event. They explore new themes like identity and queerness while staying true to what the original source material offered such as trauma and guilt. Regarding identity, the main character struggles with understanding who she really is and identifying others who truly care about her. Due to her trauma, she even has an estranged relationship with her own father. She states, “We all put on masks”, which represents the faces we put on for who we want to be for others. This is an interesting metaphor considering that masks are a staple of slasher movies. In most cases, they serve to hide the identity of the killer, while other times they are utilized to cover a disfigured face. For this story, the mask represents the facade individuals put on for others. You think you know every person presented until you realize what they’re capable of. That’s when the mask comes off and the true horror is revealed. Every character is a valid suspect because they all have something to hide along with the capability of running over the moral line. I’m not exactly sure who the killer is yet and that’s what makes the mystery all the more interesting.
Furthermore, the show doesn’t shy away from displaying queerness. I really admire the creative team implementing the fluidity of sexuality in this mature show because it is an authentic representation of the modern world. I believe it is essential to showcase this natural human behavior in art and stories because I know it can help others feel less alone and scared in the world. It complements the theme of identity as it encourages one to embrace who they really are and not hide behind a mask. There’s power and beauty in revealing your true self to all; if you don’t, you would only be facing darkness and drown in your own lies like the main characters.
Lastly, all the main actors in I Know What You Did Last Summer do a wonderful job at expressing guilt, paranoia, and frustration within their characters, especially actress Madison Iseman using great range as she displays a conflict between sisters. She is a natural scream queen. There’s a strong sense that their mistake is a burden they’ll forever carry and it eats them alive. A transformation washes over the friendship after their tragic accident. We see the consequences of living with guilt and abusing friendships. Some believe they did the right thing, some believe they did the wrong thing, while others believe they can get away with it regardless because of their wealth. As a result, it sparks a fascinating conversation of ethical behavior in a world that is unfair. Does someone deserve to subject themselves to the same suffering they accidentally caused or do we always have a moral duty to take our punishment if we deserve it? I believe the right thing to do when people get hurt, especially if you caused it, is own up to your mistake, accept the consequences, and move on with your life. I need to know how this story will end, which is why I can’t wait to see this through to the end.