I really don’t like slasher movies. But this was a “cool teenager” movie that I wasn’t allowed to see as an elementary schooler back in 1997, so I’ve always been a bit curious.
The movie starts off with a beauty pageant. Sarah Michelle Geller (Helen) is winning, but I think we’re supposed to think that she thinks it’s a bullshit contest. We cut to Freddie Prinze, Jr. (Ray), Jennifer Love Hewitt (Julie), and Ryan Philippe (Barry) sitting not with the crowd but rather alone in the balcony, seeming to imply both literally and figuratively that they are “above” this small town pageantry. (Oh yeah, VS Readers, this is a critical analysis kind of post.)
Julie is sad that she and Ray will probably split up when they go to college at the end of the Summer. But he tells her that “the success rate of high school sweetheart relationship is higher than any other type of relationship” and she tells him to “cite your source.” So then he puts his hand over his heart like his heart is his source and I would ordinarily puke but Freddie Prinze, Jr. can get away with a lot of stuff in my book. So then she takes off her cardigan sweater, which I guess is like BIG. I mean maybe she just ALWAYS wears a cardigan and taking it off is like the equivalent of removing one’s pants in her world because Ray says, “Are you sure?” and she nods (aw I mean I appreciate the clear consent, so yay) and then they have sex. SO I don’t know how we got from cardigan removal to “are you sure you want to have sex with me?” but at least they are on the same page and that’s all that matters. Or like wait. Maybe she was just saying yes she’s sure she’d like to remove her cardigan…erm well maybe a teen movie from 1997 is not the best source of guidance on this topic.
Anyway, Barry gets so drunk that he can’t drive his BMW home. But rather than just chilling in the back seat and letting his friend drive his sorry drunk ass home, he sticks his head out of the sun roof and drops an open bottle of alcohol all over Ray’s lap–causing him to careen into a pedestrian, who admittedly was crossing a dark road on a curve but still… So because they are selfish bastards who don’t seem to be concerned as to whether or not this dude has a family that may be worried about his disappearance, they decide to dump the body in the ocean.
But before than can do any body-dumping, David from Roseanne shows up as some dude named Max. Julie and Ray get rid of him by playing it cool and acting like Barry is just casually drunk vomiting on the side of the road. Ray decides that speaking like a middle aged country clubber is the best way not to arouse suspicion and says thing like “What can I do for you, Max?” and “We’ll be seeing you Max.”
In a last minute moment of “compassion” they decide to check this dude’s wallet to see who he is. But when Helen goes to check it out, he reaches out and grabs her. Time to call an ambulance, right? Nope, instead they beat him back and toss him in the water. But he’s grabbed her beauty pageant crown and now Barry has to dive in to the water and reclaim the evidence. He’s like definitely still alive under the water and opens his eyes. So Barry flips out and leaves him to drown. These people are horrible and I can’t wait to see them be terrorized for the next hour and fifteen minutes.
They all vow never to speak of the incident again, but that doesn’t last very long because about a year later Julie gets a note: “I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER!” (For you close readers, you’ll recognize that as the title of this film.) So she starts rounding up the team. Unsurprisingly, they don’t speak to each other anymore and they’re all miserable. They immediately think it was Max, so Barry beats him up. This is obviously just a red herring and my money is one of the four-some betraying the others.
The someone tries to run over Barry with his own car. That person gets out of the car with a hook but doesn’t kill him. This is all very clearly to send a message.
Julie and Helen decide to play amateur detective and head out to David Egan’s family home. (David Egan is the dead guy BTW. They found out his name from a newspaper article.) They run into Anne Heche who seems them peering through a window. They make up some phony story about needing to call AAA and she doesn’t seem to care that they were about to break in her window. She’s David’s sister and she answers all of their inappropriately probing questions without ever appearing to become suspicious. Actually, she may be suspicious because she runs out to their car to give them back the cigarettes that Helen left behind. They’re just sitting there chatting while running a car that they said wouldn’t start.
More shenanigans ensue. Someone cuts off Helen’s hair in the middle of the night. Someone puts Max’s dead body with crabs in Julie’s car. And Ray gets a threatening note. Barry is convinced that Ray is terrorizing them all. Crap, that was my guess. But it’s too early so it’s probably another red herring. But even though this person is clearly willing to murder them all, they still want to track him down and talk to him? So Helen rides in the 4th of July parade on the pageant float while Barry sits conspicuously at the front, scanning the crowd for any shady characters.
Also, am I really supposed to believe that it is July in North Carolina and all of these lead characters are wearing sweaters?
So Julie goes back to speak to the sister again. She once again shares a ton of info. And this gradually causes Julie to realize that the man they hit with the car is not David Egan. In fact, David also got a scary note saying “I WILL NEVER FORGET LAST SUMMER!” His sister thought it was a suicide note because David’s girlfriend past away the previous summer…but basically it seems like there’s a weird super-human killer out there in this North Carolina town and it’s not Robert DeNiro. (Cape Fear is still giving me nightmares.)
Anyway, while the slasher is busy killing Barry and Helen, Julie reads more newspaper article and figures out that the killer is most likely the father of David Egan’s girlfriend.
You know what guys, I think Ray is up to no good. I do NOT trust him. Omg wait. Now I’m not sure. Some dude just punched Ray in the face because he was chasing after Julie and like then he told her to run to his boat and she did but it’s so obviously A TRAP. Ugh, yep. She’s like definitely on the killer’s boat now. But luckily Ray helps her out because he is in fact, not the killer. It was all very harrowing and I would recount it but I feel like this is already way to long and I did scream at a level audible to my neighbors at multiple points in this movie. So basically, the bad guy’s arm gets caught in some kind of like rig on the boat. (I don’t know boat things so I can’t explain better…) and then he like gets strung upside down by the rig and then lands in the water, presumably drowning (again). Anyway, when the cops show up they can only retrieve his severed hand still holding the hook. The implication is that he’s hanging around still trying to kill them. This is confirmed by the last couple of minutes in the movie in which he stalks Julie at school and leaves a threatening note for her on the shower door, “I STILL KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER,” which is a movie I probably will not be watching.
Very Special Lesson: Do your research – if they’d read all of the available newspaper articles at the start of this movie, then they could have saved themselves a lot of trouble. Also,