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'I Know What You Did Last Summer' review: Rewatch the '90s movie instead

Madison Iseman and Ezekiel Goodman in "I Know

Madison Iseman and Ezekiel Goodman in "I Know What You Did Last Summer." Credit: Amazon Prime Video/Michael Desmond

SERIES "I Know What You Did Last Summer"

WHERE Streaming on Amazon Prime Video

WHAT IT'S ABOUT Fans of '90s horror know what they're in for with this new Amazon Prime series. The 1973 Lois Duncan novel "I Know What You Did Last Summer," prominently adapted into a hit 1997 movie that spawned a mini franchise, gets another look as the fodder for an eight-episode season.

The premise stays the same, though it's set in the present day world of smartphones and TikTok: Friends hit and kill someone with their vehicle, cover it up and are stalked one year later by a mysterious killer who knows all about the crime.

Those hoping for a return appearance from Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Freddie Prinze Jr. or any of the icons of teen movies of yore, will be disappointed.

There's an all-new ensemble here, fronted by Madison Iseman (the new "Jumanji movies) as twins Lennon and Alison; Brianne Tju (MTV's "Scream" series), Ezekiel Goodman, Ashley Moore and Bill Heck ("The Ballad of Buster Scruggs").

The Hawaii-set series is developed by Sara Goodman and the first four episodes are streaming now.

MY SAY The makers of this "I Know What You Did Last Summer" are asking a lot of their audience.

There's hardly enough to this plot to sustain even the original movie, today regarded as a minor classic of the slasher subgenre that had the good fortune to hit theaters in the post-"Scream" afterglow.

Here, they're asking viewers to stick with them for eight episodes running about 45 minutes each.

This is a breathtakingly simple premise for that much screen time. A killer torments these pals utilizing predictable horror methods ranging from ominous text warnings to sudden slayings, while the group tries to fight back. Hovering over it all: a growing, pervasive sense of shame over their conduct a year earlier.

There's no viable way to stretch this into an entire season of TV. Maybe in a different universe, where it could be transformed into a character-driven rumination on the way guilt grows over time, you might have something to work with.

But we're not talking about a dive into the depths of the soul here. A viewing of the first four episodes of the series showcases convoluted twists and lurches in different directions as the only solutions offered to the obvious need to provide this material with more heft.

Without getting into the central new tweak here, in the form of a revelation made clear at the beginning of episode 2, suffice it to say that it runs so monumentally counter to basic logic about how human beings conduct themselves that it sinks the entire show.

There's plenty of time for some of the worst dialogue imaginable — "there are no accidents, only karma," one character wisely utters. "Dead people don't breathe," says another, in case anyone might have forgotten.

There's not much for these actors to do with this sort of writing, but the original cast's performances were practically Oscar-worthy in comparison.

At least the Hawaiian scenery is nice.

BOTTOM LINE Rewatch the '90s movie instead.

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