I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998)
While it's not nearly as successful as its predecessor, I Know What You Did Last Summer (I Know), I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (I Still Know) is an entertaining, atmospheric and tense film with a couple prominent, unfortunate, ugly warts.
If you haven't seen either film yet, I Know is a prerequisite. As the story continues in a linear fashion, it's imperative that you watch them in order. Plus, if you don't, I Still Know will provide far too many spoilers, as will this review, which you should stop reading until you've checked out at least the first film.
I Still Know picks up the story one year later than the main events in I Know (as shown at the epilogue of I Know). We first see Julie James (Jennifer Love Hewitt) confessing to a priest. As a very clever tip-off that something's askew (and perhaps a way to try to avoid spoilers for anyone who hadn't seen I Know), scripter Trey Callaway has Julie tell the priest that her and her friends killed a man unjustly. The priest ends up being Ben Willis, and we learn that Julie was dreaming. This also is the clever explanation for the end of I Know, which links the two films together by Julie's dreams.
Julie is in college, living with her roommate, Karla Wilson (Brandy). We see Julie not only experiencing bad dreams, but general psychological torment due to her experiences in I Know. So, when Karla wins a radio station contest - -a trip to the Bahamas for four -- Julie goes along, as well as Karla's boyfriend Tyrell (Mekhi Phifer) and, in lieu of Julie's boyfriend Ray (Freddie Prinze, Jr.), who is as ambivalent as she is neurotic, Karla asks schoolmate Will Benson along, since he has the hots for Julie and Karla thinks he's a better match. At that point, the film takes major left turn as the gang arrives at the Bahamas (well, Mexico doubling for the Bahamas--the Bahamas are really flat) and it seems that someone else may be trying to chase down Julie.
It's a bit of a complicated premise, and that's the source of my major criticism of I Still Know. Both the beginning and the Bahamas material work fine. The problem is that they don't flow together very well. The transition feels more like two separate films than a logical progression. I Still Know should have been set only at Julie's college (and possibly with a return to Southport, North Carolina) or only at the Bahamas. I would have picked the Bahamas, as we've already seen Julie at college and in Southport, as great as the setting was in the first film, and we've already seen countless slasher flicks set on campuses.
The Bahamas setting worked beautifully -- there was a great excuse to make it desolate, and a better excuse to make it dark and stormy. Director Danny Cannon has stated that his goal was to make I Still Know play more like a traditional haunted house film, and to an extent, he achieved that with the island location -- think of a slasher killer set loose in a haunted house. If we could do it over, it would be better to start with Julie in the Bahamas -- perhaps she decided to take a year off of school to relax in a new environment and took a job at the resort. That would only leave finding an excuse to have her stay at the end of the season. An easy one would be that she was afraid to head back to Southport for the summer holidays, so she invited friends to stay with her as she worked as part of the off-season skeleton crew.
Cannon did a good job of maintaining consistency with I Know in the look of the film. There's a similar color scheme (one of the ingenious aspects of I Know) with a bit more focus on the earth tones in exchange for blue. He did an equally good job maintaining consistency in the killer menace. As it would be difficult to go with less gore and graphic violence than I Know, I Still Know ups that quotient a bit, to great effect. The stalker scenes are just as tense as anything in the first film, and some, such as the chase through the attic, the approach to the locked glass-paned door, the tumble through the glass roof, and the surprise appearance--right after a joke--wherein the stalker nabs one of the main characters, are better than some of the scenes in the first film.
I Still Know has a wider cast, which is beneficial in some cases, especially Jeffrey Combs outstanding appearance as the hotel manager and Jennifer Esposito's take as the off-season bartender (both should have received far more screen time, in my opinion). The bigger cast is also detrimental in some cases, most notably Jack Black as Titus, a severely misconceived Rastafarian wanna-be that Callaway tries to turn into a comic foil, but who ruins almost every scene that he's in (except for his last); the character definitely does not belong in this film.
I Still Know might receive a slightly lower rating from me (a point or a half point) if it wasn't a sequel to I Know, but that still makes it a very good, entertaining slasher flick with a few very bad decisions (including the title--why they didn't just go with I Know What You Did Last Summer, Too is a mystery to me) and at least one very nice twist. Without the bad decisions it might have earned a stronger recommendation. As it is, I Still Know is better than average.