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In Praise of the I Know What You Did Last Summer Sequel Names
No other horror franchise has better sequel naming conventions.
Making the sequel to a successful horror movie live up to the original isn’t easy, as countless sophomore slasher and supernatural efforts show. You need to give audiences more of the scares that they’ve come to enjoy and expect from the first movie, and then you need to one-up them without tipping over into self-parody. The returns diminish quickly.
The sequels to I Know What You Did Last Summer might not be on the same level as the 1997 original, starring Jennifer Love Hewitt and Sarah Michelle Gellar. But, they do successfully pull off something that should be easy for horror sequels, but frequently isn’t: The I Know What You Did Last Summer sequels have perfect, amazing names.
Why I Know What You Did Last Summer Has the Best Sequel Names
Now streaming on Peacock, the first I Know What You Did Last Summer featured a group of teens who are haunted by a hook-wielding killer whom they believe was the man they accidentally killed in a hit-and-run accident the previous summer. (Hence, he knows what they did last summer.) The movie, along with Scream the previous year, is widely credited with reinvigorating the slasher genre in the late-’90s, and it was a box office success. I Know What You Did Last Summer was No. 1 at the American box office for three weeks and grossed more than $125 million worldwide on a budget of $17 million. Of course there was going to be a sequel. And, what else could the sequel to I Know What You Did Last Summer be called but I Still Know What You Did Last Summer?
I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, which is also streaming on Peacock, hit theaters the year after the original, and it takes place one year after the events of the first movie, too. As the title so eloquently suggests, even though the surviving characters have moved off to college, there is somebody out there who still knows what they did last summer, and they still want revenge.
(One minor nitpick about this title is that, if it’s a year later, that means the killer still knows what they did two summers ago, rather than last summer. But, given that the killer has a rough go of it in the first movie, they’re probably looking for revenge for last summer’s events as well, though it’s unclear in this case what “still” is doing in that statement, then. I Know What You Did Two Summers Ago would solve this and still indicate that this is movie #2 in the series, but it’s not as good a name as I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, nor is it directly set up by the ending of the first film, which ends with Hewitt’s character seeing “I still know” written on her mirror. Anyway, we digress.)
The third movie in the franchise, I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer, was a 2006 direct-to-video sequel that didn’t feature the main cast of the first two movies. The drop in quality is apparent, but the title naming convention is as good as always.
Sometimes, a movie tells you what its sequel should be called. Far too often, though, the filmmakers or producers don’t listen, as evidenced by the Now You See Me sequel not being titled Now You Don’t. M3GAN’s upcoming sequel is titled M3GAN 2.0, which is pretty good, but c’mon — it should be MEG4N. That’s why it’s all the more impressive that I Know What You Did Last Summer also knows what makes a good sequel title. A fourth film in the series is in the works. The title has not been released yet, but here’s hoping it will be keeping in the spirit of the best-titled franchise in horror.