Reader, I will be up front with you and say that I have never seen the original I Know What You Did Last Summer. I come to this show with no nostalgia for the films whatsoever so I am nothing but a clean slate for a revenge tale. There is no reason to why I haven’t but it may be the only 90’s horror film I haven’t watched. Growing up in the 90’s meant sneaking as many horror films as I could, starting with my first horror film Scream. I always felt like I came in at the tail end of the slasher genre after the entire rulebook was being handed out on screen. Watching I Know What You did Last Summer brought back a lot of the feelings of watching a slasher for the first time as I sat and watched the first four episodes.
A lot of modern horror films are very cerebral in the mainstream and that’s totally great. But sometimes I want to watch a bunch of messy college students be dumb, horny, and just kind of awful to one another. The show follows the same model as the movie, both of which are based on the novel by Lois Duncan. A group of teenagers commit a vehicular manslaughter, all decide to keep the dark secret in the group, and the next summer… trouble comes calling. The show doesn’t rely on an urban legend killer like the film did with “the hook”. This is a vague summary because I do not want to give away a single piece of this incredible puzzle.
When I heard about this show, I was wrapping up my viewing of the Scream television shows third season so I immediately wanted to seek this out. While I liked Scream, I think IKWYDLS does a better job of adapting a story in a new and original way. The writer and producer Sara Goodman also worked on the series Gossip Girl which is why I feel comfortable saying that this show is the Gossip Girl of horror. It follows a group with a lot of secrets that will ultimately be their undoing. The friends have known one another since they were children so there are bound to be secrets amongst them.
The dynamics of the group are set up in one of the opening scenes at their high school graduation party. This party is flashbacked to throughout the first few episodes to show us new moments of vulnerability, betrayal, and connection between our main cast. The party is full of drinking, drugs, and larger than life scenes which is where I bought into the show. It harkens back to those horror films where this kind of party would happen to set everything up. Returning to the scene after we learn more about each character is a very well pulled off story telling element.
There is also an element in this show that a lot of horror lacks in the mainstream today, horniness. I debated whether or not to talk about this but I think it is integral to the genre that spawned this show, the slasher. Everyone describes movies like Friday the 13th as “a group of horny teenagers” and this follows closely in that vein. There is an abundance of overt horniness in the opening scenes and a lot of it leads to the problems for the group. The show doesn’t shy away from it’s sexuality across the board which leads to very interesting group dynamics and a show unafraid of the tropes of its genre.
While every actor gives a great performance, one that stood out to me was Madison Iseman’s role as Lennon & Allison, the twin leads of the show. She plays each in a way that they are uniquely different but with the dynamic that they are sisters with complicated feelings for one another. I cannot get into details because it would be spoiler country but if not for anything, watch the show to watch Madison’s performance because it’s mind blowing at times.
If you have never seen the film, the I Know What You Did Last Summer show is still worth your time. It captures the energy of a 90’s horror film in a more modern setting as each of the group faces their dirty little secrets head on as someone starts to kill them off one by one in this spectacular reimagining.