After Scream reinvigorated the slasher subgenre in 1996, a wave of meta teen slashers erupted to cash in one the success. The following year saw arguably the most famous, 1997’s I Know What You Did Last Summer.
Based on the 1973 Lois Duncan murder/mystery novel, Kevin Williamson had actually written this screenplay first, but struggled to sell it. Then, after the success of Scream, he had no problem getting it made.
And while it was a success, it wasn’t a true adaptation of the source material, according to Lois Duncan of course. She was reportedly unhappy with the slasher approach since her novel was meant to be more suspenseful and thoughtful.
So enter the Sony produced Amazon Prime Original Series I Know What You Did Last Summer. In an odd move, they released the first 4 episodes (which is apparently half the season) all at once, and will release the rest one per week.
Shot on location in Hawaii, we see Lennon Grant return to her hometown for the summer, only to discover she’s not Lennon at all. Through a series of flashbacks we see that Lennon and Alison Grant were twin sisters, played collectively in a dual role by Madison Iseman (Annabelle Comes Home, Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween).
To say that Alison and Lennon had a strained relationship would be an understatement. Lennon looked down on Alison for being naïve to the world, and still being a virgin, while Alison slut shames Lennon for her sexual openness.
Things come to a breaking point at the end of the school year when Lennon seduces the one guy that Alison was interested in, merely because she didn’t make the move herself. What follows next will be familiar.
Lennon and her friends are driving drunk at night and run into what appears to be Alison. They dump the body and swear that no one will ever speak of this. Back in the present, the twist is revealed that it was in fact Lennon who died and Alison has taken her place.
Alison must now pretend to be her sister and carry on living this lie, with only her father knowing the truth.
“I Know What You Did”
The tension begins when Alison sees the iconic phrase written on her mirror, and now she and her friends are the crosshairs of a killer who knows their dark secret. Now, in addition to trying to pass as Lennon, Alison must deal with people she knows being picked off one by one.
At first, she thinks it’s the real Lennon doing this, but after her body washes up on the beach, any doubt of her death seems to have been swept away with the tide. Now, having known for sure that her sister is dead, she and her friends investigate the murders, all while the killer seems to taunt them.
Pretty Little Murderers
While this new series adaptation is closer to the whodunnit style of the original novel, it still feels very overdramatic and aimed for a widespread teenage audience. For those familiar with the series Pretty Little Liars, this series feels very similar to that, but edgier with cursing, bloody gore, and nudity.
Much like the aforementioned series, this one jumps around a lot in time, and it’s very easy to get confused with when the scene is set and whether we’re looking at Alison or Lennon. They’re very different characters but Madison Iseman really doesn’t do enough to differentiate them.
Thus far, the most interesting character is probably her father Bruce, portrayed by Bill Heck (Locke & Key). We really see a conflict in him as he mourns the loss of one daughter, one with whom he was very close, and helps his other one walk this very difficult tightrope. He wasn’t always the best father for Alison and he’s clearly trying to make up for that now.
The murders themselves are also a huge highlight, at least in the first four episodes. Traditional slasher fans who are hoping for gory kills might be slightly disappointed that we never actually see the murders happen. Rather we, along with the characters, discover the grisly aftermath of the murders. And even though we don’t see the deed take place, that doesn’t make the crime scenes any less bloody.
While the episodes we got weren’t exactly the Hitchcockian mystery/thriller that Duncan probably would have wanted, it does evoke that style and vibe in a much better way. And it’s just interesting enough to keep me coming back next week for episode 5.
What did you think of the first four episodes of I Know What You Did Last Summer? What do you hope to see next week? Let us know in the comments!