‘I Know What You Did Last Summer’ puts a modern twist on a cult classic

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Amazon Prime Video follows in the footsteps of Freeform and The CW with its latest teen drama, “I Know What You Did Last Summer.” Four episodes were released to kick off the series last Friday, with single episodes to be released weekly.  

The series is inspired by the 1997 cult classic of the same name, which was already an adaptation of Louis Duncan’s 1973 novel. The original film focuses on a set of friends who, after running over a fisherman with a car, are terrorized by a slasher who saw the crime unfold.  

The updated series version follows a relatively similar storyline but adds a set of twins to the mix. Rather than casting actual twins, the showrunners chose to go the “Liv and Maddie” route. Madison Iseman, known for her role on “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” transforms into Allison and Lennon, a pair of identical twins. Further complicating the premise is the modern-day setting, which entails social media and allows already ominous stalking to be taken to a whole new level.  

Marketing itself as a mix of teen drama and horror, “I Know What You Did Last Summer” is just that. The amount of gore might not be enough to satiate hardcore horror fans, but it definitely makes an appearance every episode. Perhaps equally as gory is the show’s fair share of raunchy scenes. Coupled with the drama taking place in the seemingly serene Hawaiian setting, the show is reminiscent of many others targeted toward teenagers.  

There’s a hunt for a murderer like in “Riverdale,” scandals and drug abuse like in “Euphoria” and some seriously concerning stalking, channeling Netflix’s “You.” “I Know What You Did Last Summer” also relies on flashbacks to reveal crucial plot points as the show progresses, similar to how viewers see events unfold in Freeform’s “Cruel Summer,” starring Olivia Holt.  

The show’s most notable similarity is to “Pretty Little Liars.” After a year of peace, Lennon and her group of friends receive text messages from her thought-to-be-dead sister Allison, exposing things only she would know. In “Pretty Little Liars,” the main set of characters also receive shocking text messages from a girl that disappeared. Ironically enough, the missing queen bee is also named Alison. Whether this is a homage or a blatant rip-off is unknown.  

Maybe these connections are a sign of unoriginality, but they could also be a testament to the power of the genre. Time and time again, concepts are reused, yet they still manage to maintain an undeniable appeal.  

While certainly entertaining, there is an apparent lack of realism — perhaps an inherent component of the genre. For having just graduated high school, the characters have done things most real people wouldn’t have. Plus, their parental figures tend to condone, rather than disapprove of, their unhealthy habits. Thus far, there have been multiple deaths and the characters’ subsequent reactions haven’t exactly been appropriate in nature. Regardless, the characters are somewhat likable and the show undoubtedly leaves you wanting more. 

Though “I Know What You Did Last Summer” draws inspiration from the 1997 version, it has plenty of its own twists and turns. In retrospect, the ultimate twist at the end of the first episode should have been beyond predictable, but the strong acting leaves viewers caught off guard. Four episodes in, it is confirmed that the series will not have the same ending as the film, giving fans of the original an opportunity to assess its merit.  

Overall, Amazon Prime Video’s “I Know What You Did Last Summer” seems to draw on more works than just the 1997 film, but still delivers entertainment-wise. Acting as more of a revision than a remake, the elements added to the tale make for an interesting story, regardless of whether you’ve seen the original or not.  

Rating: 4/5 

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