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Charisma of Hewitt, Brandy Can't Make 'Summer' Shine


If you're up on your capitals of South American countries, you'll smell a rat when a Boston college student wins an all-expenses-paid Fourth of July weekend vacation at a posh Bahamian island resort for guessing Rio as the capital of Brazil.

But if you're Julie James (Jennifer Love Hewitt), survivor of "I Know What You Did Last Summer," you'll let your vivacious roommate Karla (Brandy), the contest winner, talk you into going along.

Anything would be better than returning home to South Port, a charming old North Carolina coastal community where two Independence Days earlier a drunken youth driving down a remote beach highway struck a man, presumably killing him. Of the four passengers only Julie, the most intelligent and mature of the four, insisted they contact the police, but she was forcefully outvoted.

One Fourth of July later, the supposedly dead man, Ben Willis (Muse Watson), garbed in his fisherman's slicker and face-concealing rain hat, surfaces with a hook in place of his right arm and ready for revenge for having been the victim of a hit-and-run accident. He succeeds in killing the car's driver and his girlfriend, and Julie and her boyfriend Ray (Freddie Prinze Jr.) think they in turn have succeeded in killing Willis.

Had that been the case, there wouldn't have been a sequel, right? "I Still Know What You Did Last Summer"--shouldn't that be "Summer Before Last"?--finds Julie, Karla, Karla's boyfriend Tyrell (Mekhi Phifer) and Will (Matthew Settle) off to the resort. Ray has told Julie he can't get away, and Karla thinks Will is just the guy to cheer up the fragile Julie, who is subject to nightmares and hallucinations that constantly confront her with images of past terrors. (She really needs professional help, not a vacation.) Of course, an island soon to be cut off by a storm is just the spot to be trapped with a crazed killer.

If "I Know What You Did Last Summer" wasn't the virtuoso work that "Scream," also written by Kevin Williamson, was, it was fun, energetic and fairly scary. But "I Still Know" is merely a fairly silly and ultra-gory schlocker/shocker. Danny Cannon directs Trey Callaway's serviceable script with tremendous drive and zest, but the film is so bloody without being all that persuasive that you start thinking how delightful it could be to be watching the poised and lovely Hewitt and Brandy, overflowing with talent and personality, in a movie other than an especially bloody slasher picture.

Thankfully, there is considerable humor in the film. Although "I Still Know What You Did Last Summer" is too much a retread to be as scary as it should be, it will probably satisfy hard-core horror fans in an undemanding mood.

* MPAA rating: R, for intense terror, violence and gore, and some language. Times guidelines: too bloody and violent for children.

'I Still Know What You Did Last Summer'

Jennifer Love Hewitt: Julie James

Freddie Prinze Jr.: Ray Bronson

Brandy: Karla Wilson

Mekhi Phifer: Tyrell

A Columbia Pictures presentation in association with Mandalay Entertainment. Director Danny Cannon. Producers Neal H. Moritz, Erik Feig, Stokely Chaffin, William Beasley. Screenplay by Trey Callaway. Cinematographer Vernon Layton. Editor Peck Prior. Music John Frizzell. Costumes Dan Lester. Production designer Doug Kraner. Art directors Charles Butcher, Scott Ritenour. Set designers Louisa Bonnie, John D. Jeffries, Joseph Lucky. Set decorator Ann Harris. Running time: 1 hour, 40 minutes.

In general release throughout Southern California.

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