I Know What You Did Last Summer has to be one of my all time favourite movies. It is an impressively well constructed film that not only boasts a brilliant cast, score and script, but the best directing and atmosphere that has graced our screens perhaps since Halloween.
Williamson's script is intelligent, and cleverly side-steps all the pit-falls that a movie of this type could have fallen into, and is not too 'hip' as to stumble over its own dialogue. Whereas in Scream (oh come on, it had to be mentioned somewhere), Williamson mocked the cheesy slashers of the s, here he pays tribute to everything that makes an enjoyable and thoroughly entertaining thriller.
The cast (including Sarah Michelle Gellar, Freddie Prinze Jnr. and Jennifer Love Hewitt) surprised me with their finely-honed and believable performances. Their characters may have stuck closely to the clichés of old-fashioned horror, but each handed in performances that are way under-rated.
The build up of tension throughout the movie is remarkably clever (John Debney's excellent score gets top marks in this department with his haunting, depressive ballads), and the idea of a killer who toys with his victims to invoke fear into them before finally killing them is one of genius proportions. It's a technique that has been employed in horror before (most notably in the more recent 'Valentine'), but never more effectively then in I Know What You Did Last Summer.
The thing that made this movie so unnerving was the whole idea that the characters are being 'punished' for what they did. Again, revenge is a very common factor in slasher flicks, but here the reason for revenge actually makes sense, and we are not subjected to mindless babble in which the killer tries to make sense of his own actions. Simplicity is the key, and Williamson knew it. There's also a very strong morality tale at the core of the film; we all know that what the characters did was wrong, but how many of us in their situation would have reacted any differently?
Something else that sets I Know What You Did Last Summer apart from other slashers - and in truth, apart from the gratuitous boob shots and gore, I Know... is more of an artistic thriller - is the amount of character development that is allowed, and the fact that instead of having death after death (therefore eliminating the need for a plot), the film allows us time with each character to get to know them well enough to fear for them when they are attacked.
Kevin Williamson continues strongly onwards with this highly-raut, entertaining dip into classic slasher territory. Sarah Michelle Gellar gives a winning performance, and the directing is superb. This is one that should not be missed.