Monday, September 29, 2014

My thoughts on the remake of I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER

I'm a couple weeks late reacting to this, but I wanted to put in a few thoughts about the announced remake of I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER.  No, that's not a joke. Deadline reported two weeks ago:

This one is being written by Oculus co-writer/director Mike Flanagan and partner Jeff Howard who are adapting the 1973 Lois Duncan book again. Producing is Neal Moritz (Fast and Furious franchise) who also produced the original 17 years ago.

The original film came out in 1997 and starred Jennifer Love Hewitt and Sarah Michelle Gellar, and since there's no better way to put this, it's mostly remembered for the assets that led to this quote from Jennifer Love Hewitt, "We had this joke on the set... All the girls wore tiny tops, so we called it 'I Know What Your Breasts Did Last Summer.'"

I guarantee that if the producers get nothing else right, they will strive to be faithful to that aspect.
I was a teenager when the original movie came out and because of that I have a couple reasons for being a bit ambivalent towards this remake. The first is just the feeling that I'm really wary of the fact that we're now reaching into not just the 90s, but the LATE 90s for our remakes. How far off are we from remaking Austin Powers and American Beauty?

The second reason is more self-serving - I wanted to be the one to remake I Know What You Did Last Summer!

This is true. You can find me on record in both 2009 (in the comments) and in 2011 talking about the potential in a remake. I've long said that remakes shouldn't be about remaking what was already successful. There's almost zero chance you could hope to make a better film and the shortcomings of the latter production are only more pronounced when stacked up against the classic.

Instead, a better way to go would be to remake a film that had a germ of a good idea, but failed to execute it properly. For years, IKWYDLS was my go-to film when discussing something with a lot of unrealized potential. Instead of a slasher, I saw an opportunity for a morality play. The set-up is the same - four teens accidentally kill someone while out joyriding, then dump the body and vow to keep the secret. 

My vision was to have the drama focus on how keeping the secret weighs on each of the teens involved, as that's a hell of a character-based concept. Honestly, it's an element that could have stood to be woven into the slasher version more. You'd need an antagonist of some sort who'd send the notes reading "I know what you did last summer..." but I'd probably not go for a psycho slasher. My gut would be to make that "villain" someone slightly sympathetic, someone we might even be tempted to root for.

I probably wouldn't go the route of being faithful to the Lois Duncan novel, though. My recollection is that the novel had fallen into relative obscurity by the time of the first movie. I read it years ago after seeing the movie, and it's pretty fair to say that the book would be unfilmable if you were determined to preserve the exact plot and mystery.  A key twist relies on the reader not realizing that the characters of Bud and Collie, who have separately interacted with each of the girls in the story, are actually the same person. While it's a shocker on the page, it's not a twist that works in a visual medium.

Whatever direction the remake takes, I hope that it can be a little more character-driven than its predecessor. And now I'm going to have to find another go-to answer for "What film would you want to remake?"


  1. See, it's because it didn't stay faithful to the book that I refuse to see the original. And the same will hold true with the remake.

    Sometimes not staying entirely true to the book works - like Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, the book didn't really have a main villain. The movie does. A movie has to have a main villain, not just random vampire killing.

    And then there's those rare times the movie is better than the book. To this day I wonder who Winston Groom slept with to get Forrest Gump published because the book is AWFUL. But the movie is awesome.

    But something like IKWYDLS needs to stay true to the book or not be made, period.

  2. Why would they even try to top what Jennifer Love Hewitt's breasts did last summer?? Talk about a endeavor doomed to fail!

  3. When are we going to see Hollywood remake good movies?

    By "remake good movies," I mean "Once again make good movies, like they did up until about 20 years ago."

    Seriously, I could understand if they were remaking movies worth seeing, but when it's almost always just the kind of garbage only an idiot would enjoy, the question has to be asked.

    No more remakes, please. No more prequels, sequels, reboots, or reimaginings. Also, no more vampires, no more zombies, no more superheroes, and no more Transformers.

    Someone clue-in the studios that there's a vast and growing mass of non-adolescent grown-ups who are being completely ignored by moviemakers.