Gathering up flicks to view for ICM’s poll of the best films from 1997,I read a Facebook post from HMV marking 20 years since this title came out.Shoerly after seeing that post,I found it being added to Netflix UK,and spotted fellow IMDber Red-Barracuda rate it. With all these coincidences, it felt like the perfect time to go on a Summer holiday.
Celebrating Helen Shivers being crowned college princess,pals Shivers,her boyfriend Barry Cox, Julie James and her boyfriend Ray Bronson drive home drunk. Paying no attention to the road,the gang run over a man dressed in a long black coat. Believing they would be charged with manslaughter,the group pick up the body and chuck it into the ocean. Just as the body is being thrown, the man screams and puts his hand out. Losing contact with her friends after they all vowed a year ago not to tell anyone of what they did,James is horrified to get an anonymous letter,saying that they know what she did last Summer.
View on the film:
Only keeping a partial reference to the original ending,and the drunk teens run over a person part of Lois Duncan’s book, (whose daughter Kaitlyn was killed in an unsolved murder,and who hated this adaptation,with the book being about the remorse the teens (none of whom are killed) have over taking the life of an innocent man) the screenplay by Kevin Williamson hooks into his most streamline take on the Slasher genre,with Williamson’s pop culture- driven dialogue being clipped to a handful of stray lines of dialogue,and the set-pieces lacking any serious feeling of danger. Locking the door on a person being trapped in a car whilst a nutter waits outside, (a major theme of his work) Williamson gathers a surprisingly nasty group for the slayings,with their blunt exchanges stubbing out any chance of empathy growing for any member of the gang.
Despite being filmed in California, director Jim Gillespie (despite this being a big hit,he would not direct again until 2002’s The Legacy) & cinematographer Denis Crossan give the movie a very good small,fishing town vibe,as slick tracking shots catch the daily prep of seafood in the background,as the teens get slayed. Appearing to be inspired by the Giallo sub-genre, Gillespie gives the black coat- wearing psycho ultra-stylised Slasher set-pieces,from the killer hiding in smoke-covered rooms,to the face of the murderer being revealed via a reflection in the glasses of a victim,as Julie James is reminded what she did last Summer.