I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer” (2006) goes low-budget, low-talent and straight-to-video to wrap up the trilogy. Since it came out eight years after the second entry, I didn’t even notice this film’s existence at the time. When I noticed it years later, some curiosity percolated at the back of my mind about how the franchise continued after the first two films, both of which I liked.
I finally gave in to that curiosity in my Fourth of July revisiting of the “IKWYDLS” saga. It might be worth watching once for huge fans of the first two films, but others can skip it; it’s obviously inferior in execution, but it has some decent concepts and settings. The action moves to a small Colorado town and a new group of high school graduates whose July 4 carnival prank involving The Fisherman legend goes awry, resulting in their friend’s death.
These are mostly C-list actors – led by Final Girl Amber (Brooke Nevin) — who generally convey one emotional tone after showing a bit of life in the carnival opening: They are morose over what happened and scared about The Fisherman coming after them. Writer Michael Weiss’ film opens on a Ferris wheel, but no rollercoaster of emotions follows.
Director Silvain White – who has gone on to some respectable TV work – is learning his craft on this film and is unable to derive much tension. The editing doesn’t help, as the film is paced too slow yet occasionally shocked to zombified life by stylized smash cuts.
But the settings do help him. Zoe (Torrey DeVitto, the cast standout who went on to “One Tree Hill,” “Pretty Little Liars” and “Chicago Med”) lives in a refurbished barn that also serves as her band rehearsal space. A stalking scene plays out in a ski-lift repair warehouse where Roger (Seth Packard) works. An outdoor talent show, featuring Zoe and her band, makes for a decent final-showdown setting.
Probably because of cheapness rather than artiness, “I’ll Always Know” is grainier and dirtier than the slick first and second films. If this was a better movie, the style might work to its advantage. Although the cast has their jobs for their looks, they do resemble run-of-the-mill teenagers more so than the likes of the magazine-cover-ready Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Freddie Prinze Jr. and Brandy.
Weiss devises good concepts that come off flat via the direction and dialog deliveries. Namely: Who the heck is The Fisherman? The answer is (SPOILER ALERT) he’s a supernatural being who stalks people who cover up a crime. Amber and friends bring him into existence through their cover-up and belief in the legend. (Some sites list Don Shanks’ role as “The Fisherman/Ben Willis,” but my impression from the movie is that he is not a reincarnation of Willis. He’s a Guilt Monster.)
This is a cool twist on paper, but it plays out in the fashion of those “Friday the 13th” sequels that casually introduce the supernatural. “I’ll Always Know” doesn’t have enough moments of the teens investigating the mystery, and when Amber figures it out, she flatly tells her friend Lance (Ben Easter) what’s happening amid the final chase sequence.
On one hand, I wish the “IKWYDLS” franchise had continued, just to see what titles they’d dream up for future entries. On the other hand, “I’ll Always Know” is draining to watch – 92 minutes of teens we don’t really care about being worried that The Fisherman will get them.