In 1973 Lois Duncan wrote a thriller book that focused on a group of teenagers who were involved in a hit & run on a young boy one summer. A year later, having all been left with indelible scars that shattered their relationships, the group are taunted, tormented and attacked by an unknown figure who claims to know what they did the previous summer.
The book was a thriller with light horror elements, focusing on the mysterious identity of the attacker. In 2010, Duncan updated the story to modernise some of the content. Mobile phones, outfit changes and minor plot elements adapted to reflect a different era.
Of course, the book is not what most people think of when they hear the words ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer’. Most people think of the 1997 slasher horror movie directed by by Jim Gillespie, written by Kevin Williamson, and starring Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe and Freddie Prinze Jr.
A loose adaption of the novel, the movie was an out and out horror that saw a group of teenagers involved in a hit & run. They dispose of the body but a year later are stalked and murdered by a hook-wielding maniac who taunts them with messages about knowing what they did.
A very successful film, it would be followed by two middling sequels, the last of which was released in 2006.
Possibly buoyed by the success of the 2015-2019 Scream TV series, in 2019 Amazon Studios announced a series adaption of I Know What You Did Last Summer was in development. It premiered on Amazon Prime Video in October 2021 and ran for 8 episodes.
Adapted from Lois Duncan’s story by Sara Goodman, I Know What You Did Last Summer stars Madison Iseman, Brianne Tju, Ezekiel Goodman, Ashley Moore, and Sebastian Amoruso.
A baffling adaption that crafts a thrilling mystery around so much nonsense, all while dragging its heels to a conclusion that is hugely unsatisfying. The TV series of I Know What You Did Last Summer is a constantly frustrating watch. One where you wonder how the hell it was stretched to 8 episodes when it probably could have been half that.
Also if you thought the film adaption took liberties with the book, this TV series sets fire to it.
The basic outline is there. A group of young teenagers leave a party and end up involved in a hit & run. They cover up what they did but end up fractured until one year later when they are all reunited. Of course, this is when they all start to receive messages from an unknown person claimed to know what they did last summer.
Then the body count starts to rise and really rise as the whole town is engulfed by this mystery. Just who is responsible and just how will our main cast stop it?
That brief summation might make this show sound exactly like the movie you saw back in 1997 but it’s wildly different. We’re attempting to avoid spoilers here so won’t go into much more detail, except to say that this show has more twists and turns than the Shining maze. Most of which are nonsensical and seemingly unimportant to the overall plot. A lot of which is left as a ‘to be continued’ in season 2. Which as of January 2022, we will not see, as the show has been cancelled. So, making investment in this series utterly pointless.
Regardless of that, it’s not a fun watch. Partially because of the pacing, the confusing way it tells its narrative and because of its cast of unlikable characters. Oh yes, I Know What You Did Last Summer has a set of characters that are mostly horrid, idiotic or just annoying. Which is a real shame as the actors involved are good at their jobs. Props alone go to Madison Iseman and Brianne Tju, who are often the best thing about the show. Even if their characters are so detestable.
It’s puzzling as to why they were written this way. They’re supposed to reflect modern teens with modern problems, which is fine if done right. However, they’re all bunch of scheming, lying and nasty characters. The bond they share is questionable and other than being involved in a hit & run, you’ll be confused as to why any of them are friends. Perhaps the icing on the cake of just how awful they are is the finale of the series. Talk about head-scratching.
So, horrible characters and a mess of a story, does it at least do horror well? Yes. Yes, it does. Death comes with a side-order of pain and anyone who does end up dying in this show, goes out in style. It’s often done haphazardly, where there’s been nothing for ages and then suddenly, someone is taken out. It can be quite spectacular though and the visual effects are strong. It’s just a shame, again, that far too many deaths lack meaning and even when an important death occurs, it is forgotten about shortly afterwards.
Hell, this town ends up with a body count high enough to have the FBI swarming it, but the local police never seem that bothered. Even less so when one of their own is killed. Stuff like this, amongst much more, really hurts the immersion. However, without spoiling things, it’s not the biggest culprit for immersion breaking.
The thing is it’s all pointless investment regardless. So many loose threads are left and now it has been cancelled. All the unanswered questions, of which there are many, will remain unanswered. As a standalone show, it’s just not strong enough nor coherent enough to enjoy. When you’re left hoping almost all the characters end up dead by the end, you’ve probably missed the mark.
I Know What You Did Last Summer - Season 1
The Final Score - 5/10