“I Know What You Did Last Summer” is in a word: disappointing. A poor imitation of similar teen drama murder shows like the Netflix smash-hit “Elite,” “I Know What You Did Last Summer” is full of the classic dramatic camera angles and poorly lit sets characteristic of the genre, but that is where the similarity stops.
“I Know What You Did Last Summer” follows a group of teens in a Hawaiian town the night before they leave for college and then, in flash-forwards, one year into the future. At a wild party celebrating graduation, the entire class seems to be in attendance, but sisters Lennon (Madison Iseman, “Fear of Rain”) and Alison (also played by Iseman) steal the spotlight as Lennon’s friend group — Margot (Brianne Tju, “47 Meters Down”), Riley (Ashley Moore, “Model Squad”), Dylan (Ezekiel Goodman, “Rat Bastard”) and Johnny (Sebastian Amoruso, “Solve”) — celebrate their last day of high school by getting drunk and high.
Despite the first episode’s party atmosphere, “I Know What You Did Last Summer” is slow-paced, lacking any sense of urgency that would cause the viewer to click the next episode. Other shows of the genre are dangerously bingeable, hours and hours passing as you consume more twists and turns, but one episode of this show feels like an eternity and offers little excitement. You wait the whole episode for a plot twist, a big reveal or even a jump scare, but they never come.
The show is also missing another critical aspect: complex characters. A good show doesn’t even necessarily require likable characters, just interesting ones. “I Know What You Did Last Summer” has neither. From the outset, the characters are either entirely underdeveloped and poorly communicated or are two-dimensional. Every one of them seems the same, with little variation: One is slated to go to USC, another to Julliard, and the show’s lead is going to University of Michigan. Another character seems to embody (albeit lazily) the “good guy” trope, but these are virtually the only details the show offers about them.
The dialogue is peppered with lines from typical mystery tropes about how you can really never know anybody, least of all yourself. It’s hardly an original take, and it’s delivered poorly alongside shots of the main character staring out at the ocean and driving down the road in her orange Jeep in her hometown. If you paused the show anytime within the first 10 minutes of the first episode, you might think you accidentally returned to 2013 Tumblr. One of Iseman’s characters narrates over these excessive, boring scenery shots in the tone of a bratty 12-year-old crying, “No one understands me!”
It’s little consolation, but the soundtrack is a somewhat redeeming feature. You’ll be scrambling for the song titles to add them to your own playlist, tapping your feet mindlessly as the banal drama unfolds onscreen. However, the fact that the soundtrack is the most interesting aspect of the show mostly serves as a reminder that you could be having a much better time right now dancing to your favorite playlist and singing into your hairbrush than watching this drivel.
All in all, “I Know What You Did Last Summer” offers little stimulation and much to be desired. The show fails to present any interesting characters or hold your attention. Considering the 1997 film version is often hailed as a campy slasher classic, you’re better off watching that throwback hit this October than spending time on yet another moody and uninspired reboot.
Daily Arts Writer Emmy Snyder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.