Amazon Studio’s I Know What You Did Last Summer premieres tomorrow, just in time for spooky season. It is based on the iconic 1997 movie featuring Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Freddie Prinze Jr. These high school teenagers cover up a hit-and-run accident and swear to never reveal the secret to anyone. A year later, those same teenagers are stalked by a brutal killer that targets them one by one.
That is the basis for the modern take of the iconic film. Essentially, the story is the same, save some minor changes, like a more diverse cast and a few new characters. However, even with the changes, I Know What You Did Last Summer is not nearly as interesting as the movie. This begs the question, why are studios still remaking and adapting the same movies and shows two decades later?
After the fatal accident that changes their lives forever, the teens try to return to life as normal. Unfortunately someone refuses to let them forget. They’ve all gone to college but someone is stalking them. To figure out the mystery, Lennon (Madison Iseman) returns home from college and calls her friends from high school. Someone on the island knows about their dark secret and is willing to put them in harm’s way. Lennon, Margot, Riley, Johnny and Dylan try to piece together the identity of their stalker.
I’d recently watched Jim Gillespie’s I Know What You Did Last Summer, coincidentally and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It had suspense and brutal killings that left me anxious to discover what happened in the end. Unfortunately, this modern take on the iconic movie is simplified to fit the time period its presented in. There are influencers and parties of course, although this time there’s at least parental supervision, but it doesn’t add anything new.
Despite the similarities, the show isn’t trying to duplicate what the movie has done. It can be fine to rewrite the story and twist the narrative so that it fits the period. So far there have been slight changes to make the story stand out on its own. Perhaps that’s how this show could be good. But what makes 1997’s I Know What You Did Last Summer great and memorable is the suspense, not the teenage culture . It is the revenge and the mystery that are the core aspects of the movie. The movie will leave you haunted, but these factors are simply missing from the show.
Despite all of these negatives, there was one performance that stood out for me, and that’s Ashley Moore, who plays Riley. She is, by far, the strongest character in the show. Moore gives one of the best performances in the show. Straightforward and caring, she tries to patch things up with Dylan and learns how to grow past mistakes.
I Know What You Did Last Summer doesn’t have the potential of its predecessor, and it doesn’t seem to want to. But with bad dialogue and characters that are just not interesting enough to keep people entertained, it’s just not worth the watch. I ask again, why does the industry keep adapting the same story with underdeveloped characters?
I’d argue some shows just don’t need to be adapted. There’s a general lack of originality in Hollywood now. Almost as if orginality and creativity, exploration of new ideas and concepts aren’t encouraged. However, given the rise of diversity and inclusivity in Hollywood right now, at least this adaptation brings in new voices, queer characters and Black characters to the story. Still, I Know What You Did Last Summer has problems such as tone, dialogue that can’t be resolved with a diversity. Watch it and let me know how you feel in the comments below!
For more from Nuha, check out her most recent piece covering Midnight Mass!