[Blu-ray Review] The "I Know What You Did Last Summer' 25th Anniversary 4K Gives a Classic Slasher a Sleek New Look
Chances are that if you grew up in the 90s, you think of teen slasher I Know What You Did Last Summer every time you hear Kula Shaker’s “Hush”…
…Great song. Even better movie.
Director Jim Gillespie’s debut feature, IKWYDLS sliced and diced with the best of ‘em in the 90s. Often mentioned in the same breath as that decade’s Scream or Urban Legend, it continues to sail with the status of a beloved classic. Now, a 25th anniversary 4K release from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has washed ashore, with the film looking and sounding sharper than ever.
Unlike writer Kevin Williamson’s Scream, IKWYDLS (based on the young adult novel by Lois Duncan), is more or less your basic cut ‘em up with a sleek look. The film—which deviates quite a bit from the book—follows a group of adolescents celebrating one last summer together before shipping off to college. Drinking. Partying. Getting away with murder. Things like that. One year later, it turns out someone knows about the hit and run accident committed by our four protagonists and they have a point to make…with the tip of a hook.
Upon release, the film received criticism for following the basic tropes of slashers a little too closely, especially considering it was released after Scream, which redefined the sub-genre. To be fair to Williamson, his IKWYDLS adaptation was written before Craven’s movie, but the knocks on the film aren’t without merit. Every outdated rule we love from slashers of old is docked here. Virginal girl next door heroine in Julie (Jennifer Love Hewitt)? Check. Sexually active friend Helen (Sarah Michelle Gellar) who embraces her sexuality and gets punished for it? Sigh, yeah. A killer returning one year later to leave little love notes like “I Know What You Did Last Summer”? You betcha. It’s a film that could’ve easily found a home in the slasher golden age of the 80s.
What has kept IKWYDLS from drowning under the sea of time to the point we’re celebrating a new 4K release is Gillespie’s slick as a fisherman’s slicker direction and the heartthrobiest of heartthrob casts.
As entertaining as it is, IKWYDLS is a rather dark teen horror flick which sinks deeper and deeper into sordid territory as it goes. A story which reflects on childhood friends as passing ships in the night heading out into a more sinister world, Gillespie paints the film with a color palette of Billy Blues that appears as crisp as clear ocean waters on this new transfer. There’s a cold chill that creeps all throughout the film. Gillspie and cinematographer Denis Crossan enhance that melancholic feeling with a heavy use of shadows that is one of the more effective elements of the film. That shot of the Fisherman’s shadow looming as Helen runs down the street looms just as large in my mind.
That pursuit in particular might be one of the best chase scenes in slasherdom—despite its frustrating conclusion—and it’s one of many intense moments circling the viewer like sharks. Some of that is due to an impeccable sound design full of creaking ships, cold winds and that iconic chime which the killer arrives with. The new Dolby Atmos audio really lets you feel the sharp hook of the soundtrack as it pulls you deeper into this murky tale of revenge. And oh my, does it allow that iconic scream of Gellar’s to hit new, bone-shaking highs.
Speaking of Helen, fans will shiver over how gloriously her Croaker Queen crown sparkles in this 4K transfer. The effect only grants her more of the stunning beauty boss status she deserves, which is arguably more respect than the film gives her. We all know Helen should’ve been the “Final Girl”, don’t lie. Cut out of this franchise too soon or not, the entire cast is no group of shit-stick-mayberry-ass-rejects, collecting teen icons like Hewitt, Gellar, Ryan Phillippe (Barry) and Freddie Prinze Jr. (Ray). I didn’t know any puberty-stricken teen who watched this movie and didn’t have their heart drop like an anchor over one of those stars. Hotness aside, there’s a depth to these characters that reaches a little more below the surface than your average slasher. While the newly collected deleted scenes on the disc are all unfinished footage that hasn’t been color-corrected and such, hardcore fans will appreciate moments that go deeper in these relationships, such as some bonding between Barry and Ray and a rare instance of Barry actually being sweet to Helen. Do these brief cuts add anything we don’t already know? Not really. But they’re fun to watch, all the same.
Of course, the most exciting addition other than the new look/sound is that of the original alternate ending. I won’t fill your nostrils with the rotten fish stench of spoilers, but I will warn you to check expectations, as this is one of those cases where changing the ending was the right call. IKWYDLS has one of the more shoulder-shrugs of a killer reveal in slasher history, and this alternate ending will have you thankful for the literal steamy shower scene we got with Hewitt instead.
The added features might only be worthwhile treasures to completionists, but with a fresh new look and previously released additions such as an interview and commentary with Gillespie, this is one disc IKWYDLS fans will want to take to the grave. So, what are you waiting for, huh?
The IKWYDLS 4K 25th Anniversary Edition is now available from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Check out the full list of Special Features below.
4K ULTRA HD DISC
By Matt Konopka