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I Know What You Did Last Summer Has More Than One Nod To Jaws

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Although “Jaws” didn’t necessarily set out to become the ultimate summer movie, Spielberg and company made sure to play up the seasonal trappings within the film if only to raise the stakes of suspense. After all, a killer shark isn’t too intimidating if he’s got no buffet to go to, so setting “Jaws” on the 4th of July weekend with hundreds of swimming tourists best served the story. Yet it undeniably provided audiences with a uniquely unsettling vibe, the idea that a happy, carefree time could be quickly followed by horrific tragedy.

That vibe is what lies at the heart of “I Know What You Did Last Summer,” in which a group of teens graduating high school with their whole lives ahead of them accidentally murder a passerby while driving, causing them to make a fateful decision to cover things up and keep it a secret. Being set in North Carolina in the summer, the film was always going to have some attributes of the season. Yet Gillespie goes the extra mile, setting the movie on and around the 4th of July in a small fishing town, depicting celebratory activities that juxtapose with the terror the teens are facing as they’re attacked by a mysterious blackmailer. When speaking to Digital Spy in 2017, Gillespie explained how intentional the “Jaws” connections were:

” […] it’s set in a seaside town and I wanted the feel of that. So there’s lots of stuff that nods to ‘Jaws’; Fourth of July parades, all those things. We amped it up with a Croaker Festival. Gary Wissner designed these big fish buggies, fish hats. We got a load of local school bands to do the march for the festival. We went to town on all that! I wanted the waterfront to have a New England feel, and ‘Jaws’ was that.”



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