Nearly 25 years after I Know What You Did Last Summer starring Jennifer Love Hewitt debuted in theaters, the slasher franchise is back. Only this time, it’s a psychological horror series adapted for a whole new generation of fans. Showrunner Sara Goodman explains to ET how the Amazon show will reference both the films and Lois Duncan’s 1973 novel, which the whole franchise is based on, while carving out new ground for the familiar story about a group of teenagers stalked by a killer one year after they tried to cover up their involvement in a fatal car crash.
“You know, they were very different from each other,” Goodman says, referring to the novel and the first film. “But I love the premise that they both have, and that’s what we used. The book was much more psychological, so the show has a lot of psychological, mystery and horror as well. And there’s little shout-outs to the movie throughout the show.”
When it comes to those references, “there's little prop Easter eggs and shout-outs like that,” she explains. “But I felt like I couldn’t do anything that wasn’t organic to the characters in the story of this world.” With that said, don’t expect Lennon (Madison Iseman) to recreate Hewitt’s iconic “What are you waiting for” scene or anything like that.
In this version of the franchise, Lennon and her friends, Dylan (Ezekiel Goodman), Johnny (Sebastian Amoruso), Margot (Brianne Tju) and Riley (Ashley Moore), are haunted by a car accident leading to the death of one of their friends. And a year later, they find themselves reunited as they try to piece together who’s after them before their horrifying secret is revealed.
But given that this story unfolds over eight hours, there’s a lot more to explore, including the dark side of their seemingly perfect town as they get deeper into their own living nightmare.
“To tell a straight slasher on television, you can’t. There’s only so much running and stabbing,” Goodman says, explaining how she expanded this story for a series by bringing in those suspenseful and psychological elements while the central teenagers are also dealing with real issues coming from themselves. “I wanted to make all of that danger still and at the same time be able to ground the characters.”
In this case, the things Dylan, Johnny, Lennon, Margot and Riley are dealing with include everything from how they present themselves versus their own isolation, the way they act out against each other, and realizing they barely know each other.
Additionally, “to make serialized television, you need to make sure that you have more than just one story and that’s more important than being true to the original, underlying material,” she continues. And like any good teen series, that means the inclusion of parents.
Since Goodman previously worked on Gossip Girl, she understands how to incorporate adults into this kind of world and make them just as messy or dysfunctional as their kids. “I think that was one of the other positive things for me about doing a show, which is these people come from families. We don’t just come into the world with our dysfunction, our families give it to us,” she explains, adding that their presence “helps deepen the characters. You then understand their decision-making processes, understand their defense mechanisms, understand why they keep the secrets they keep or share them.”
But before any slasher fan gets too worried that this series will not have enough killing or fall into the trappings of other adaptations, like MTV’s attempt at Scream, Goodman promises “there are lots of killing and I would be wary of falling in love with any character.”
“It was very important to me for everyone to know that anyone can die, and that people will and that I'm going to take the gore one step further,” she continues, adding that the series doesn’t just bring in a character to kill them. “I didn’t want to kill anyone without knowing them.”
At the end of the day, what makes I Know What You Did Last Summer worth watching is that “it delivers on the horror and the fun, and that the characters will keep you there. It has some depth and surprises and lots of mystery,” Goodman concludes. Indeed, it does!
Want to watch I Know What You Did Last Summer? The first four episodes are now streaming on Amazon. New episodes debut every Friday. (We may receive an affiliate commission if you subscribe to a service through our links.)