Many people credit the ’90s as being a fun pop culture decade, and it’s true that some beloved horror movies came out of that time period as well. The mid-to-late ’90s brought us Scream (1996) and I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997). These two films are popular teen screams that everyone still has fond feelings about today, and each one has sequels (with varying degrees of success and quality). They are also both written by Kevin Williamson who is also known for creating Dawson’s Creek.
Every horror movie does some things really well and some things not quite so well. Here are five things that Scream does better than I Know What You Did Last Summer and vice versa.
***Also If you havent seen these 90s gems…Do yourself a favor and stop reading….GO watch and then come back and read….There are spoilers ahead******
SCREAM: META HORROR
At first glance, these two films have a lot in common with one another: they are both from the ’90s and they both feature high school characters and scary scenes. But Scream stands out because of one thing: it’s a meta-horror film. It definitely goes without saying that when it comes to meta-horror, Scream does this so much better than any other movie. It’s what makes this film feel so fresh.
One of the characters, Randy Meeks (Jamie Kennedy), enjoys watching horror movies and has a crazy extensive knowledge of them. Not only that, but he’s pretty obsessed with the “rules” of the horror genre. He often tells the other characters about this, and he’s one reason why Scream is known as a meta-horror movie.
I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER: A LOVE STORY
It might sound strange that I Know What You Did Last Summer has a love story, but the relationship between Julie James (Jennifer Love Hewitt) and her boyfriend, Ray Bronson (Freddie Prince Jr.), is really sweet. He cares about her and looks out for her and her safety… which is pretty key since the group of friends is being targeted by a killer.
Although Neve Campbell’s protagonist Sidney Prescott has a boyfriend (Billy Loomis, played by Skeet Ulrich), he not only pressures her into being intimate when she’s not ready but (spoiler alert) he ends up being the killer (or one of them). It’s safe to say that wasn’t a great love story.
SCREAM: A GREAT CAST
The cast of Scream really is amazing. Of course, there’s Neve Campbell, who brings her talents to the girl-next-door role.
Other cast members include Drew Barrymore (whose opening sequence couldn’t possibly be more iconic), Courteney Cox as Gale Weathers, David Arquette as Deputy Dewey, and Rose McGowan as Sidney’s best friend Tatum Riley. Liev Schreiber plays Cotton Weary and even Matthew Lillard shows up as Stuart.
KNOW WHAT YOU DID SUMMER: A STRONGLY TOLD STORY
Both of these horror movies are about serial killers, but there’s something about the way that I Know What You Did Last Summer tells the tale. Based on the 1973 novel by Lois Duncan, the film follows a group of teenagers who accidentally kill someone… or so they think. He’s not actually dead, he knows what happened, and he’s going after them.
The movie may be a bit cheesy (it was the ’90s, after all) but it’s interesting to watch as he targets each of them and as Julie tries to figure out what’s going on.
SCREAM: THE ICONIC MASK
The killer in I Know What You Did Last Summer is a fisherman named Ben Willis who wears what looks like a black raincoat. He’s not exactly the most pleasant person around, that’s for sure, but he’s not nearly as iconic as the killer in Scream, Ghostface.
And Ben Willis isn’t as iconic as the mask that Ghostface wears, either. There is a reason why people wear this mask, along with the equally famous black coat, for Halloween year after year. It really wouldn’t feel the same if the mask had been different.
I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER: THE PREMISE IS SCARY
Scream does have its scary moments, but it’s true that the movie has a fun, campy vibe that doesn’t always lend itself to making audiences cower under a blanket.
The premise of I Know What You Did Last Summer is honestly scary. If anyone puts themselves in the shoes of the main characters, they would think that this is a really unpleasant situation to be in. The idea that you would be walking around your town, trying to live your regular life, all the while knowing that someone was after you is incredibly tough. The killer even gets into the characters’ houses.
SCREAM: WES CRAVEN’S DIRECTION
Wes Craven is widely considered to be a celebrated and talented director, and he was truly a masterpiece of horror movies. He directed Scream (along with the three sequels) and it is a testament to him that the movie is so good.
The movie’s direction is so flawless. There are many scenes that are beautifully shot, whether the camera is panning around the outside porch of Sidney Prescott’s home or watching the group of teenagers at their high school.
I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER: A BEAUTIFUL SETTING
Most of the movie takes place in the small town of Southport, North Carolina during the summer. It’s a truly beautiful setting, and while the small town of Scream is nice-looking, it really has nothing on the other film’s atmosphere.
It’s definitely even more chilling to watch a scary story that is set in such an idyllic place since people figure “those types of things never happen here.” As Julie visits her friends or Ray down at the docks, it’s impossible not to get at least a little bit distracted by the scenery.
SCREAM: A TRULY SURPRISING REVEAL
It’s fair to say that no one saw the ending of Scream coming: that Sidney’s boyfriend Billy was the killer, along with Stu. This is mostly because Sidney truly thought that the man her mom was having an affair with, Cotton Weary, was the one responsible for her death (especially because he had been put in jail for it). Audiences learned that Billy was furious that his dad and Sidney’s mom were actually romantically involved, and he was out for revenge.
There was no real “reveal” at the end of I Know What You Did Last Summer because, well, everyone knew who the killer was. That was the whole point of the story.
I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER: A TWIST ENDING THAT SETS UP THE SEQUEL
There are many times that a character will be killed off in a horror movie or TV show only to come crawling back because—surprise—they’re not dead at all.
At the end of I Know What You Did Last Summer, Julie is showering at college and then it becomes clear that not only is the killer back, but he’s right there, in the bathroom. This is a twist ending since everyone thought that they would be left alone. It does set up the sequel really nicely.