I Know What You Did Last Summer, streaming on Prime Video, is an American teen slasher-horror offering. Based on the 1973 namesake novel by Lois Duncan, which was adapted into a film in 1997, the 8-episode show follows teenagers in Wai Huna, a fictitious Hawaiian seaside tourist hotspot. (The show was shot in Oahu, Hawai) That a novel from the 70s, adapted to a film in the 90s, finds itself repurposed as a web-show in 2021 is telling of the broadening, adaptive avenues of storytelling.
The teenagers murder someone, cover up the crime and attempt to be the teenagers that teenagers are meant to be — not yet adults, not children anymore, in a vague cusp of maturity. But unlike the literary and cinematic source material, the teenagers of 2021 are more posh, more connected with less connections, and more self absorbed, fortified with social media’s long shadow, the instant spitting of thoughts through text, the ubiquitous access to pleasure and the notorious webcam. Besides, these are teenagers of the streaming revolution, navigating the distracting contours of love, lust, and lots of backstabbing. The Guardian called the show a “gory Gossip Girl”, albeit with a greater diversity in the case — of sex, sexuality, and race.
When Lennon (Madison Iseman) returns to her Hawaii home after her first year in college, tense, stressed, with fraught relations with her father, the reason becomes increasingly clear. The previous year, after her graduation party, a teen bacchanal, Lennon and her friends Margot (Brianne Tju), Riley (Ashley Moore), Dylan (Ezekiel Goodman) and Johnny (Sebastian Amoruso) kill someone. The murdered? Lennon’s twin Allison.
The circumstances and the morally bankrupt response of the characters haunt them — literally. Lennon finds an oozing decapitated goat in her closet and the ominous, titular words in scarlet “I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER” on her mirror. Soon, the bodies pile up. The small Hawaiian town, the kind where everyone whispers each other’s secrets, is full of suspects. Rendered in flashbacks and flashforwards, the show is a webby mess of circumstances, one that is referenced in the spider imagery that is laid thick on the show. The propulsive twists zig-zag the plot, punctured frequently by effective jump scares.
The first four episodes of the series premiered on Prime Video on October 15. The remaining four are released every week.
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