Rated R - Running time: 1:36 - Released 11/13/98

After seeing 1997's I Know What You Did Last Summer, I doubted that those involved would ever produce a sequel. I expected them to do something more appropriate, like apologize, seek absolution, or at the very least hang their heads in shame. But teenage tastes being what they are, I Know What You Did actually fared pretty well at the box office and prompted the film's producers to return to the scene of the crime. When I heard the sequel's title, I strongly considered resigning this post. But upon forcing myself into the theatre, I was pleasantly surprised: Stupid title aside, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer is actually better than its predecessor, with better actors, a more interesting story, and a production design that is much more visually appealing. It's amazing what a little capital can do.

One very good reason for the improvement may have been the complete dumping of last year's creative team in favor of writer Trey Callaway and director Danny Cannon. Considering what he had to work with (a crazed Gorton's fisherman chasing a bunch of kids with a big hook), Callaway could have done a lot worse in his feature film writing debut.

Julie James (Jennifer Love Hewitt, Party Of Five) is one of the only people left alive at the end of I Know. Another is her boyfriend Ray (Freddie Prinze Jr.), but they're not getting along too well — Julie is constantly on edge because she was almost eviscerated by a hook-wielding madman. When her friend Karla (Brandy Norwood) wins a trip to the Bahamas, she wants to take Julie and Ray, as well as her own boyfriend Tyrell (Mekhi Phifer). But Ray's not interested, so Karla invites another friend named Will (Matthew Settle).

When the kids arrive at their island paradise hotel, they get bad news: There's a major storm coming, so they have to batten down the hatches and wait it out. The upside is, they pretty much have the place to themselves — they think. But when Julie is trying to sing karaoke at the bar, the song lyric teleprompter flashes those words she's come to know and loathe. Can you guess?

Though Julie's friends think she's flipped, they all start finding dead bodies — or becoming them. Soon it's a full-blown cat and mouse game, with our pals running scared through the empty hotel, or out in the hurricane, hotly pursued by the Man With The Hook. They are joined by Nancy the bartender (Jennifer Esposito) and Estes the bellman (Bill Cobbs).

The decision not to fill up the entire cast with teenagers is a wise one by Callaway and Cannon. Esposito and Cobbs lend an air of accountability to the film, and Cobbs is actually a real actor. Hewitt mainly alternates between screaming and dripping, as before, but Norwood is especially believable. The setting is fun and different; an uninhabited tropical paradise is the last place you'd expect to find a slasher. Faced with such a poverty of victims, our guy is forced to concentrate on his real quarry. But he is able to find a few other poor suckers along the way.

The traditional "twist" ending ensures that there will be continued sequels. I can't wait until I'm reviewing I Continue To Know What You Did Last Summer, or Don't Think I've Forgotten What You Did Two Summers Ago, or maybe I've Written A Book About What You Did In The Summer Of '96 And It's Going To Be Made Into A Movie. Or something like that. ***

Copyright 1998 by John R. McEwen and The Republican

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