Back in the seventies, author Lois Duncan penned a novel about teenagers from a small town who hid a dirty secret. This secret is about to bring them terror beyond their imagination. The moment you hear the title I Know What You Did Last Summer, nine times out of ten they will think of the 1997 slasher film starring Jennifer Love Hewitt.
I got my hands on a revised copies of the novel and I was quite surprised the vast difference between the novel and the book. Granted, the novel was originally written in ’73, but I thought the film would be at least more similar than it had been.
Teens Julie, Ray, Barry, and Helen hit a child on his bicycle in the middle of the night while joyriding, drinking, and smoking pot. A year passes by and they all have changed. Julie, once the top cheerleader who had the lowest grades, is now accepted into an Ivy League school with a high GPA. Ray ran off to California to be a fisherman not long after the incident. Barry is now one of the star players on his college football team. Helen quit high school her Junior year in order to be Channel 5’s new Golden Girl personality.
The morning of Julie’s good news of learning she will be going to an Ivy League School, another letter arrives for her. Only this letter is different from the rest. It’s smaller than the other. The moment she opens it, her heart drops at the sight of the words, “I Know What You Did Last Summer”.
Film (Taken From Wikepedia):
‘Four high-school seniors – Julie, boyfriend Ray, best friend Helen and Helen’s boyfriend Barry – drive home from a party. While driving, Ray becomes distracted, hitting a pedestrian. Another teenager, Max, stops nearby. Julie convinces him everything is okay; he drives off. The group decides to dispose of the body. At the docks the man revives, attacking them before falling into the water.
A year later, Julie is home from college for the summer. She receives a letter stating, “I know what you did last summer.”‘
The film draws inspiration from the book instead of being a complete adaption. No one died in the original book nor was the victim a grown man. The fact the original victim was a little boy struck a deep chord with me more so than the movie. The death of a child is ten times worse in my eyes because it’s the innocence of that child. The author knew the right way to stir up the reader’s emotions through how she revealed the result of the accident had on the family. Trauma can be taken in any way, shape, or form. In this boys case, their family took the worst of it. The reveal in the end is not surprising. I expected it immediately when Barry and Julie visited the child’s family.
The movie also drew pieces from the urban legend “The Hook” and used it to strike up deep fears into the heart of the audience. The family of the victim did not seem to suffer as much as the family in the novel. The murders were gruesome, for 90s slasher standards, and the great reveal in the end is not expected.
All in all, I consider both the film and book to be separate entities. By comparison, they are extremely different in delivery, middle, and climax. The novel is a good short, little read while the movie is perfect to add to your horror collection. The characters in the book have a voice all their own that when compared to the actors, they are completely different. I don’t see Jennifer Love Hewitt as Julie or Freddie Prince Jr. as Ray. I see the novel characters the opposite of their portrayers. The actors are good for the film adaption of the characters maybe because they weren’t like their original inspirations.
Did I enjoy the novel? Yes, I did. The film? Oh yeah! Would I recommend fans of the film to read the book? I would caution them before they read because the book is by-no-means a slasher book. I remember reading it and waiting for it. When no murders came, I felt jilted because I grew up with the film version.
In the end, I’d probably choose (don’t kill me) the film version. Hear me out, it’s because, to me, it was better. I blame the delivery and the surprise ending compared to the book’s not so subtle ending.
Book: 6 out of 10 Book Charms
Film: This isn’t a Book so I’ll use Film Reels. 7 out of 10 Film Reels
What would you choose? Film or Movie?
Happy Reading and Watching!