!!The film:

* AdaptationDisplacement: The movie is far more well-known than the novel at this point; people who seek out the book may be shocked that it's a character drama about the guilt the characters feel over the hit-and-run ([[spoiler:a little boy in the novel]]) and having to cope years later while dealing with the title-based note. It's even got to the extent that some reprints of the book have a cover featuring a fisherman with a hook - even though that's something that exists entirely in the movie.
* AlasPoorScrappy: [[spoiler:Barry gets killed after he starts to show some HiddenDepths and has spent the day trying to protect Helen. The fact that she - and she does definitely care about him - has to watch him die while people try to stop her from helping makes this even worse]].
* AlternateCharacterInterpretation: Despite Julie's stance as the responsible one of the group, she never actually ''stops'' the others from dumping the body. She just protests it, and never goes to the police herself. She has ample opportunities to stop the others. But she goes along with the concealment and keeps the pact, suggesting she might not be as [[NotSoDifferent moral as she paints herself]].
* EnsembleDarkhorse: Helen, so very, very much. There's no shortage to the fans that [[spoiler: wish she had been the final girl with Julie dying.]]
* HilariousInHindsight:
** The movie has [[Series/GhostWhisperer a girl who talked to ghost]] and [[Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer a girl who kills them]].
** Eventually husband and wife Freddie Prinze Jr and Sarah Michelle Gellar star together. Despite being in a group of friends, their characters only interact once (when Helen looks at Ray before leaving the hospital).
** The DreadfulMusician performing during the second Croaker Queen pageant looks uncannily like Reese Witherspoon - Ryan Phillippe's eventual wife, and his and Sarah Michelle Gellar's co-stars in ''Film/CruelIntentions''. In both films, he gets hit by a car too.
** A sisterly rivalry with the eldest named Elsa - jealous of everything her younger sister has? [[{{Disney/Frozen}} Hmm...]]
** Bud in the book is a ShellShockedVeteran, a detail that was left out of the movie. Ryan Phillippe would later find himself playing a lot of those - notably in ''Film/FlagsOfOurFathers'' and ''Film/StopLoss''. Barry is also wearing dog tags at the gym.
* HollywoodHomely: Despite her significant AdaptationalAttractiveness, Elsa is still given a pair of glasses to make her seem less attractive than Helen. True to this trope's form, it fails miserably to the point of making her MORE beautiful.
* MemeticMutation:
** SOON
** '''[[NarmCharm What Are You Waiting For, Huh?! WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!?!!!!!!]]'''
** The title.
* MoralEventHorizon:
** The teens cross it when they decide to throw the body into the ocean to avoid going to jail for DUI and vehicular manslaughter. The JerkJock ''really'' crosses the line because [[spoiler:he dives in after the body, to make sure it stays sunk. While there, he's the only one who sees the EyeAwaken of the victim, ''meaning he KNOWS that the victim is still alive''! He just swims away, then pressures the others to keep the secret when they start to relent.]] Of course, the victim had [[spoiler: just come back from committing a murder himself, so it's not like he's entirely innocent.]]
* NarmCharm: As noted above, Julie screaming "what are you waiting for, huh!" at the sky is a little silly. But still perfectly reasonable, given the amount of stress the poor girl is under.
* RetroactiveRecognition: Two CBS examples, Max is [[Series/TheBigBangTheory Leonard]], The Fisherman is [[Series/{{NCIS}} Mike Franks]].
* TheScrappy: Barry, basically being an ''very'' unbearable JerkAss. He's a ''little'' better in the movie where he's not as much of a {{Hypocrite}} and [[spoiler: dies trying to protect Helen]]. But still not very likeable.
* TheyWastedAPerfectlyGoodPlot:
** After the film builds a nice amount of tension over who the killer is, he turns out to be someone we've never heard of.
** While the film is thought to be a good one, there are some who feel that an adaptation of the book's plot would still have been good. Though admittedly hard to pull off [[spoiler: with the double-identity twist]].
* WhatAnIdiot:
** Barry knows someone wants to kill him. Said person even tried to run him over. So what does he do? Why, he ends up going up to a dark, secluded balcony all by himself.
** Helen is no better. After a relentless pursuit, she runs through an alley and comes upon a parade full of people - only to stop and check if the killer has caught up to her yet. Naturally, she would've gotten away if she had just kept running. Of course, she could not have seen the OffScreenTeleportation coming...
* UnintentionallyUnsympathetic: Max is presented as a DoggedNiceGuy. He makes a move on Julie - when he knows she has a boyfriend - gets very pushy when she politely turns him down, and acts like a jerk to Ray (who is also nothing but nice to him).
* TheWoobie: Helen's attempts to become an actress failed, and she's reduced to working in the family store (which her sister loves to gloat over). That's not to mention that the killer seems to love torturing her psychologically.

!!The novel:

* AlternateCharacterInterpretation: Although Elsa's jealous towards Helen, there are the occasional PetTheDog moments - and Helen even thinks back to a "rare moment of sisterly friendliness" when Elsa suggested they move in together. That raises the question of whether Elsa wishes to mend the rift between her and Helen - or she's just TheSociopath who wants to impose on her.
* MoralEventHorizon:
** [[spoiler: Barry's the one most responsible, as he was driving, but he's the least affected--his sole concern is covering it up. Then after he's shot, despite knowing full well that the perpetrator is the person who has been stalking the group, thanks to the threatening phone call he received just before it happened, flat-out lies about it, first by claiming that the call was from Helen, thus allowing his parents to blame her for his injuries, then lies to Ray and claims it was a random mugging gone wrong, thus allowing everyone's life to be in danger, proving that he really doesn't care about anyone but himself. It's hard not to feel sorry for a guy who might be paralyzed for the rest of his life, but Barry pushes it pretty close.]]
** Some might say [[spoiler: Collie crosses this when he shoots Barry. There's no doubt that he has every right to be angry at the group, but turning them in would be a lot more tolerable than taking the law into his own hands and deciding to KILL THEM all, especially considering that three-fourths of them were genuinely shaken up and sorry about what had happened.]]
* TheWoobie: Helen's from a poor family and continually tortured by her jealous older sister, and in a relationship with a guy she loves but is seeing other people behind her back. She's kind and good to everyone but everyone hates her [[SoBeautifulItsACurse because of her beauty]]. While her part in the accident doesn't make her 100% sympathetic, she still goes through a lot.