Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I Still Know What You Did Last Summer And You Should Have Spent Your Time A Bit More Productively, Young Lady

In theory, no one under 17 is allowed to see an R-rated movie without adult supervision. In theory. You know, and I know, and Hollywood knows that this rule is broken all the time, however. Witness these toys based on movies no one of toy-playin’ age was technically allowed to see:

So Hollywood definitely knows there’s certain stuff that draws kids in, even though it’s strictly speaking not aimed at them. During my junior high years, slashers were hot shit with the girls. Scream was the culprit, of course, and thanks to Wes Craven’s ironic slasher/giallo homage any Mysterious Killer movie would be met with great enthusiasm, be it Se7en or Valentine.

I Know What You Did Last Summer was already a pretty weak distillation of the Scream-formula, so its sequel (the imaginatively titled I STILL Know What You Did Last Summer) never stood much of a chance. Despite the impressive pedigree of director Danny Cannon (Judge Dredd! Other stuff probably!), ISKWYDLS is one limp ass pseudo-horror movie. Even Our Blessed Lady is not happy to be in this movie:


The movie starts in a dark church, with Jennifer Love Hewitt confessing her sins of the first movie. Also, she’s been having bad dreams. A special no-prize for anyone predicting the gutturally growling priest in the confessional is the kiler, but it’s okay cuz it turns out to be one of JLH’s bad dreams. If you were enthralled by this opening, I have good news for you: the next half hour will consist SOLELY of fake-out scares, from kids throwing firecrackers at poor stressed out JLH’s feet to RnB sensation Brandy sneaking about our heroine’s darkened apartment to borrow a skirt until our fearless Survivor Girl threatens to stab this Dark Shape into submission!

After some bland characterization stuff (JLH can’t relax! Her black friends enjoy parties!) our protagonists win a trip to the Bahamas thanks to Radio Geo-Tardo “where the capitol of Brazil is Rio!” Now, granted, this error in geography is actually a plot point when it is revealed that the radio contest was a fake, set up by the killer. But at this point you either think the movie is REALLY dumb, or there’s something fishy going on and our two heroines are too ill-educated to see it.

In a classic case of slasher-sequelitis, the bodycount has to be upped. So besides Julie and her friends, the completely unrelated holiday resort crew has to die too. Now, I don’t think anybody minds seeing poolboy Jack Black (!) getting some garden shears through the chest but some poor middle-aged Mexican maid getting it is just sad. On that front, actually, is where one of my arguments for the glut of post-Scream slashers being aimed at girls comes from. Sure, people get killed, and there’s blood spatters and stuff, but nobody gets decapitated, disemboweled, … or anything creative, really. There’s just enough gore there to give a teenage girl the thrill of zomg watching a horror movie, but nothing to reaaaally gross her out. Same goes for the absence of customary exploitative slasher nudity. That’s not what the target audience is here for.

One could argue that the low gore quotient is a deliberate choice, wanting to create legitimate tension without resorting to cheap tricks. Well, there’s thirty minutes of fakeout scares to counter that argument. The absence of female nudity is perhaps a paradigm shift away from depiction of women as inferior in a post-Sidney Prescott universe? Well, the plot literally hinges on our two girls getting a pretty basic general knowledge question wrong, and later in the movie they suspect a poor old black janitor who has been nothing but helpful and kind throughout the movie because he’s a private practitioner of voodoo. I mean, what kinda 13 year old’s logic is that?

There was another reason why I was sure the filmmakers didn’t quite have the feminist agenda in mind when I thought up this post but I’m afraid I fo--

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