5 Plot Point Breakdown: I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)

By Xiaofeng Chen · May 14, 2015

Screenplay Genre: Thriller / Suspense

Movie Time: 101 minutes


July 4th, South Port, North Carolina is in the gala night for Independence Day and the annual “Croaker Festival.” In the beauty contest, Helen Shivers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) wins the “Croaker Queen” and celebrates with her friends on the Beach: Barry Cox (Ryan Phillippe), Julie James (Jennifer Love Hewitt) and Ray Bronson (Freddie Prinze). They talk horror stories, drink and have sex, as young people do at this age. But while they are driving back to the town along the coast road, their car hits a man in a rain slicker. (00:14:28)

The man seems to have been killedThe boys and girls are scared out of their minds. They throw the man into the sea and swear to forget it like nothing has happened.

2. LOCK IN (End of Act One)

For the whole year, Julie is being tortured by her self-reproach and can’t make up with her university study. Summer vacation comes again and she returns home tired and meets her friends again. She finds their lives were ruined by that accident too: Helen failed her at her “acting career” in New York and broke up with Barry. Ray has been a fisherman and punishing himself by working too long and too hard. They get to know that the man they hit was found by the police after three days. His name was David Egan, a football player for a college team.

But things are not as they seem: Julie receives an anonymous letter that reads “I know what you did last summer!” (00:28:00)

They believe it’s Max (Johnny Galecki) who did it because he was passing by the scene when the accident happened. But soon Max is killed by a hook in his workshop.

Barry is then chased and hit by a car. He sees a man in a slicker get out of the car with a hook in his hand. Barry begs for his life. The man doesn’t kill him and leaves. Helen wakes up in the morning, to find that someone cut her hair short when she was sleeping and left a bloody word on the mirror: “SOON” – and Julie keeps hearing some strange rustles when she is driving. She stops her car and finds where the sounds are from: Max’s body is in the truck with hundreds of crabs!

They believe David Egan is still alive and toying them. Julie and Helen go to David’s home and see his sister Missy. Missy tells them a friend of David came and paid his respects for his death: His name was Billy Blue. So maybe Billy Blue is hiding somewhere and seeking revenge for David. They decide to bait him in the coming Croaker Festival Parade on July 4th.


July 4th comes again. Helen is in the center of the parade line. Barry is behind and watching her. In their eyes, the killer is nowhere, but everywhere in the exciting crowd. But nothing happens.

At the same time. Julie goes to David’s home again and tell his sister David’s death wasn’t an accident. Missy tells Julie that David killed himself. It’s because he blamed himself for his fiancee Susie’s death: Two years ago, just one year ago before the accident, David’s car crashed into the sea with Susie. He survived, but Susie was killed. Before his suicide, he left a letter that said “I know what you did last summer!” Julie suddenly realizes that David wasn’t the person they hit and threw into the sea. There was another man!

In the gala night, a new “Croaker Queen” is crowned and Helen is handing the crown to her. She suddenly sees a man in a slicker behind Barry, his hook rising! She shouts but it’s too late. The man kills Barry and disappears with his body. (00:72:19)

Helen is taken by the police as a troublemaker. On the way to the police station she and the sheriff are killed by the hooked killer too.

4. MAIN CULMINATION (End of Act Two)

Julie goes to Ray and tells him they didn’t hit David Egan – they hit Ben Willis (Muse Watson): Susie’s father and a fisherman. He just killed David for his daughter and was then hit by their car. Ray can’t believe it. Julie suddenly sees the name of the boat Ray works on is “Billy Blue.” She finds out Ray was “Billy Blue” and runs away from him. A fisherman helps her and takes her on his boat. In the cabin Julie suddenly sees the pictures of Susie and David. The fisherman is Ben Willis, the real hooked killer! (00:86:14)


Ben Willis sails the boat to sea. Julie shouts for help. Ray chases them on a motorboat. They have a fight on the boat, at last Julie is cornered by the hooked killer. Ben raises his hook at Julie. Ray sees his rising hand near a rope ring. He pushes the winch. (00:92:39)

Ben is hung up on the mast and his hand is cut off by the pulley on the top of it. He falls into the sea! The police come and can’t find Ben’s body, only a hand which is still holding that hook.

Julie’s life is back to normal and she is continuing her university studies. After a year, she receives a letter again that reads “I still know what you did last summer!”

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