Film / I Know What You Did Last Summer
Some people really don't know how to let things go...

"If you're going to bury the truth, make sure it stays buried."

I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997) is a horror/slasher film very loosely based on the novel of the same name by Lois Duncan, starring Freddie Prinze, Jr., Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jennifer Love Hewitt, and Ryan Phillippe. The screenplay was written by Kevin Williamson, one of the writers of Scream (1996).

The tale starts with a party and the consumption of too much alcohol, as these stories tend to do, during a beach party after Helen Shivers (Gellar) wins the Croaker County Beauty Pageant. On the way home, however, a drunken swerve of the friends' car leads to the death of a fisherman on the side of the road. The four decide to tell no one, and to forget the whole thing, throwing the body into the ocean. But somebody saw, and the next summer, they start to take vengeance, warning the four with an ominous message: I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER. Before long, people start dying, killed by a rain-slicker-clad figure wielding a hook...

I Know What You Did Last Summer was followed by two sequels: I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998) and the straight-to-video I'll Always Know What You Did Last Summer (2006). For tropes applying to the original novel, see I Know What You Did Last Summer.

This movie contains examples of:

  • Adaptation Explanation Extrication: A minor example. Elsa in the book is an overweight bitter girl who's jealous of Helen's beauty and easy success - she has to work long hours and still lives at home, while Helen gets a cushy job as a weather girl and is able to afford a nice apartment. In the movie Elsa is just as beautiful, and Helen has a failed attempt at becoming an actress and gets reduced to working in the family department store. So Elsa's jealousy and dislike of Helen isn't really explained.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Elsa, Helen's sister, is described as very unattractive throughout the book. In the movie, she's just as pretty as Helen is. Elsa was written as plain looking in the script; the director decided that if Helen is gorgeous, Elsa should be too.
  • Artifact Title: Hilariously, the second and third films still refer to "last summer", even though those events were multiple summers ago. A Hand Wave might be attempted for the second film, arguing that it's title referred to the events of the first film (as the time between the two films was indeed a year), but after that it legitimately makes no sense.
  • Asshole Victim: The fine details are up for debate, but this is a slasher film that actually attempts to justify all the various teenagers getting killed; a hit-and-run probably doesn't deserve a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, but it's not the usual innocent batch of campers either.
  • Audible Sharpness: The hook in the both movies. Even when it contacts nothing but air.
  • Badass Longcoat: The fisherman's raincoat.
  • Beauty Contest: Helen wins one at the start of the first film.
  • Behind the Black: Why Ben doesn't see Julie waking up, picking up Ray's revolver from the ground and preparing to shoot him in the second film throughout the finale. Could be sort of justified, though, since Ben has just killed his son accidentally, so Julie waking up was probably the least of his concerns.
  • Big Bad: Ben Willis in all three movies.
  • Black Spot
  • Bottomless Magazines: In the second film Julie shoots the Fisherman eight times. With a six-shooter.
  • The Capital of Brazil Is Buenos Aires: Lampshaded and subverted in the second movie as a plot point.
  • Complexity Addiction: In the second film the Fisherman creates a fake radio contest just to lure the kids to a remote island.
  • Condensation Clue: Or possibly Cendensation Sequel Hook: the writing on the fogged-up shower stall glass at the end of the first film, Foreshadowing the second film's title.
  • Dark Secret: The hit and run that starts the plot.
  • Disposing of a Body: The characters did it last summer.
  • Evil Makes You Monstrous: Ben Willis, the Fisherman from I Know What You Did Last Summer, was originally a revenge-driven killer who used a hook as his Weapon of Choice. By the time of I'll Allways Know What You Did Last Summer he's apparently become an undead ghost/living memory still driven to kill.
  • Fanservice: Jennifer Love Hewitt in that tank top she wears for the final third of the first film.
    • Also her wiggling around in the tanning bed in the second.
  • Final Girl: Julie in the first two films and Amber in the third.
  • Follow the Leader: A film about Genre Savvy teens being murdered, following the success of Scream
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: The Fisherman.
  • Gambit Roulette: The Fisherman's plan in the second movie involves sending Julie to an island resort full of people and ensuring that she would become friends with his son and the "contest" to win the trip.
  • Genre Savvy: When the girls go to visit the family of the man they killed, Helen says "Jodie Foster tried this and a serial killer answered the door."
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: Helen and Elsa.
  • Hook Hand: The killer in the sequel has one of these. In the original movie, the killer carries a gaffing hook.
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: All three films take place around the Fourth of July.
  • In-Name-Only:
    • The book and the first film share only character names and a hit-and-run that sets the plot in motion. Everything else is night-and-day — the Duncan novel is a mystery/drama in which none of the main characters die, while the film is a slasher.
    • The third film is this to the first two, as besides lacking any of the other characters besides the Fisherman, it shifts into outright supernatural horror.
  • It Was Here, I Swear!: Used repeatedly (and relentlessly). The most egregious example is the dead body and 400 crabs stowed in the trunk of one character, only to disappear equally suddenly.
    • Not only does the body and crabs disappear within minutes, but the trunk's carpet is also pristine clean.
  • Jerk Jock: Barry, but more so in the book. He was a football player and goes to college on scholarship. In the movie he's only shown at the gym once.
  • Mistaken for Murderer: Julie in the first film wrongly accuses Barry of having been the murderer all along.
  • Nasty Party
  • Not Quite Dead: The Fisherman.
  • Offscreen Teleportation
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: The Fisherman in the third movie, possibly some kind of Living Memory.
  • Peekaboo Corpse: Helen on ice.
  • Pick on Someone Your Own Size: Intergender example; the crazed fisherman is obsessed with killing Julie James and friends after they hit him with their car. He got better.
  • Police Are Useless: The inept cop in the first job who dismisses Helen as a hysteric and ends up getting hooked himself.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: In the third film:
    Amber: The secret. Dies. With YOU!
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: In the second film:
    Julie: Just *Gunshot* Fucking *Gunshot* Die!
  • Punny Name: Will Benson, who was the son of the previous killer, Ben.
    • Its even lampshaded.
  • Radio Contest: Subverted in I Still Know.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: The Fisherman in I'll Always Know, after The Reveal.
  • The Reveal:
    • I Know: The killer is Ben Willis (the guy the group actually hit) and not David Egan (who they thought they hit, and who Ben actually killed) or someone trying to avenge him.
    • I Still Know: Will Benson is (obviously) Ben's son.
    • I'll Always Know: It's not a copycat, the killer is Ben, who has literally come back from the dead this time.
  • Revenge Before Reason: The Fisherman.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The fisherman after he's left for dead in the first movie.
  • Sassy Black Woman: Julie's college roommate in the first film.
  • The Stinger: Someone is still trying to kill Jennifer Love Hewitt at the end of the sequel. According to Part 3, it's the Fisherman himself. After Jennifer killed him, he came back as a ghostly entity that looks like a zombie.
  • Time Skip: "One year later..."
  • Too Dumb to Live: Helen and Barry.
  • Villain Ball: The Fisherman sure does pass up a lot of opportunities to kill those teens. Somewhat justified in the first movie, where his intent is not only to kill them, but to make them squirm and be afraid. Still, Willis' quest for revenge threatens to expose his murder of David Egan, which he would've been clear of completely thanks to the teens. The second movie is arguably worse, where the Fisherman should know better by then not to mess around.

Alternative Title(s): I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, Ill Always Know What You Did Last Summer