In the wake of the incredible success of "Scream", writer Kevin Williamson decided to craft another teen slasher film, this one called "I Know What You Did Last Summer". The film revolves around four teen best friends Julie, Ray, Barry, and Helen (Jennifer Love Hewitt, Freddie Prinze Jr., Ryan Phillippe, and Sarah Michelle Gellar) who are involved in a hit-and-run on the 4th of July. When they run over the pedestrian on the road, they ditch the body to protect their futures. A year later, when they reunite over the summer, they all must face the secret they hid last year. Because someone knows what they did and is out for revenge.
When thinking about it, it is surprising that the writer of this film was the same one who wrote the wildly creative and suspenseful "Scream". In all fairness, "I Know.." is more of an adaption than an original screenplay. It is actually based off the book of the same name. I've read that book, and it was an awkward translation into a horror film, considering the book is actually quite different and more of a morality tale. In the book, the characters are stalked by the mystery man, but none of them are ever killed or even threatened with death. Honestly, this book was not supposed to be made into a horror film. Kevin Williamson is very talented, but I think he cares more about the "Scream" series (especially since "Scream 2" was released the same year as this film) and got lazy.
Another reason why "IKWYDLS" didn't work was the lead actors, Jennifer Love Hewitt and Freddie Prinze Jr. To be fair, Hewitt isn't the worst actress ever. She's had a few good roles, but is more eye candy than leading heroine. It seems like she's more suited to comedy, because she stumbles at times in this film and doesn't make enough of a emotional connection with the role to make us root for her. While she isn't winning any Oscars soon, she's better at acting than Prinze Jr., who is most of the time very stiff and forced (which ultimately effects he and Hewitt's on-screen chemistry). Every time he came on screen was cringe-worthy, and while he's very good looking, he was unfit to be the lead male.
Ryan Phillippe and Sarah Michelle Gellar, however, do a very good job with their supporting roles. As an on-screen couple, they have good chemistry and rapport (which they proved 2 years later in the edgy film "Cruel Intentions"). Also, they stand well on their own. Ray is somewhat of an arrogant asshole, and Phillippe plays him very well. Gellar manages to make her role as beauty queen with the shattered dream Helen also believable, and her chase scene with the killer is arguably the best part of the film. One has to wonder if the film would have been different and more enjoyable if Phillippe and Gellar were cast as the leads, and Hewitt and Prinze were given less screen time.
All in all, it's not the worst horror film I've ever seen(that title belongs to 1999's "The Haunting"). You might even managed to be entertained if you can turn off your brain for awhile, ignore some of the glaring plot holes, and sit through Jennifer and Freddie's awkward acting. However, in terms of horror films, there are plenty of better ones out there.