I Know What You Did Last Summer

A concoction with unblended bits of The Mutilator, Urban Legend, and of course, Scream, The “I Know What You Did Last Summer smoothie” is drinkable enough…question is, whether it’s good for you.

Usually, when a reviewer has zero recollection of having experienced something, there’s a reason for it. Chalk it up to multiple movie-induced False Memory Syndrome, or as is usually the case…that the film is literally forgettable. But I Know What You Did…has a lot of the elements that made Scream successful. And in some ways it even betters its better-remembered Kevin Williamson-penned predecessor with more interesting characters, less self-referential cutesy talk, and a killer with a fish hook.

Four rich-kid partiers plow over a pedestrian as they’re driving home from a beach party. With some strong-arming, they convince the dissenting member of their party, Julie, that they should bury the evidence at sea, and never mention it again. But as the title suggests, there’s a figure meting out justice, and the foursome, while they might be able to escape their consciences, cannot run from a urban legend-inspired antagonist.

A year later, around the same time Julie (Jennifer Love Hewitt) receives a note with no return address, citing the fatal incident. The kids suspect near-witness blue collar/red herring, Max (Johnny Galecki), but he’s hooked like a marlin in spectacularly gory fashion. The group realizes they gotta fight for their lives.

With sharp gallows humor and sharper performances, I Know What You Did…yes…baits the viewer with little dabs of effective hook foreshadowing, and even spares a member of the party when it’s least expected. There are references to other genre hits, both large and small: Barry (Ryan Phillippe) is stalked in a change-room a la Fatal Games; the traffic victim’s sister (Anne Heche) occupies an abode not far removed from the Sawyer house in Texas Chainsaw Massacre; and the killer hunts down hapless victims with a hook like fellow sleepy fishing village slasher, The Mutilator.

Where things go astray is in the back-third, where the silliness piles up more than the bodies.

Better than you remember, but not really good enough to stand the test of time (or merit two pathetic sequels)…Still, there’s enough to make this worth a re-watch.

*** (out of 5)

 

The Edge

From downtown…from Mitch & Murray, Mr. Steak Knives himself, Alec Baldwin, stars alongside with Sir Fava Beans, Anthony Hopkins in The Edge — in this, another David Mamet-penned joint (as talky, though not as memorable as Glengarry Glen Ross).

Hopkins plays a polymath billionaire, an almost Victorian era-styled adventurer named Charles, who is accompanying his age-inappropriate wife on a photo-shoot in Alaskan back-country (actually, western Alberta, Canada).

Charles, along with his wife’s dashing photographer (Baldwin), and their pal Stephen (Oz/Sons of Anarchy mainstay, Harold Perrineau) find out just how dangerous nature can be right off the bat when a bird strike downs their small plane, after some foreshadowing.

Stuck in the remote bush, the trio has to fend for themselves and make it to safety while a mammoth Kodiak bear is in hot pursuit.   

What good is a survivalist tale without a healthy dose of bickering? With Mamet in charge, this takes the form of pretty welcome, wry stuff like:

“You can season meat with gunpowder. Did you know that?
…Wish we had some gunpowder.”

With a love triangle as text, not subtext, we know that it’ll take everything these people have to get out of there alive without tearing out each others’ throats before ursa does.

When it comes to genre films, 1997 was a pretty great year: LA Confidential, The Fifth Element, Starship Troopers, Donnie Brasco, Jackie Brown, etc. Yet The Edge remains decidedly under the radar, despite a top-drawer cast that also includes Peckinpah regular L.Q. Jones and leggy Down Under model, Elle Macpherson.

The Edge asks the question, what personality style prevails in the bush? Is it Charles’ placid hubris, Bob’s impulsive hotheadedness, Stephen’s clarion calls? (the latter even spins a Voltarian variant of “the best is the enemy of the good” with, “A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow.”)

A genre film with smarts, The Edge loses its namesake with some coda-sagging. Still, a pretty fun nature-run-amok flick, and a great bear to boot.

*** (out of 5)