“What are you waiting for, huh? WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!”
If that line inspires visions of Jennifer Love Hewitt screaming in the middle of the street while Buffy the Vampire Slayer looks on in an unfortunate hat, then you’re in the right place. Because I know that you know that I Know What You Did Last Summer is iconic. Which means, of course, it’s ripe for rebooting. Thankfully, the new series is so entirely different from the original movie that even David Egan’s creepy sister will be like, “Maybe I should have the power turned back on in my shack so I can sign up for Amazon Prime.”
Really, the only similarity to the 1997 horror flick based on Lois Duncan’s 1973 novel is that it’s a tale of friends facing killer karma for a tragic mistake. And while this time the murderer isn’t a fisherman with a hook, it’s someone with an ax to grind. “When you’re rebooting [a project],” says executive producer Sara Goodman, “you want to create something new.” She has. Set in Hawaii, the series centers on twins Allison and Lennon (Madison Iseman) and their pals, who are targeted following an accident. Over eight episodes, the body count rises as we learn some of these teens are more messed up than the maniac hunting them. Quips Goodman, “That’s the real horror.”
Here, Goodman, who has found the perfect playground to blend her experiences producing teen drama (The CW’s Gossip Girl) and horror (Preacher), gives us some more insight into the ensuing bloodbath.
How did you get your hands on this property and how many iterations did it go through?
Sara Goodman: Well, you know, they came to me. Sony and Amazon and Neal Moritz [who also executive-produced the original IKWYDLS] came to me and said, “We really think you’re the perfect person to do this.” And I was like, “No, no, I can’t do it. I don’t want to fail because I love the novel. There’s a lot of pressure to honor that.” But they came back to me enough times that I finally got over it and figured out that there was a way to do it that was super-exciting to me in which we could really go into the characters and create more mystery than had been in either the novel or the movie.
Setting it in Hawaii is brilliant. Not just because you got to work in Hawaii, but also because it feels like you’re showing us a side of Hawaii we rarely see. It’s grittier and more isolated. This is not White Lotus.
[Laughs] That’s exactly why I picked it. I felt like we hadn’t seen this Hawaii. I felt like we hadn’t seen just people who live in Hawaii and especially at that age where you feel so trapped. It’s like a small town you have that need to get out of, and so it feels even smaller. Even just making the show there, you realize how small it really is and that we as an audience and as visitors only see the sheen of it and the glamour of it and the paradise part of it. The island, like this mystery, has these other layers that people aren’t seeing at the beginning. So I kind of just felt like it was a perfect metaphor for that, as well as a very different way of looking at the culture and the landscape and the weather and all of these parts of the islands that we never see.
I really liked the idea of the twin sisters, how only one of them is popular. Like the other one is not part of this crowd.
No, not only is she popular, she’s like the valedictorian and she’s the partier. [Laughs]
And there’s this whole Twin Peaks sort of thing that develops later on. By episode four, it’s clear these kids were doing things in high school that were messed up.
Oh yeah, I know. It’s the scary truth. [Laughs]
When you started to put together the story and set your list of casualties, how difficult was it to possibly get five or six episodes in and be like, “I love writing for this character, but they need to die”?
[Laughs] Yeah. That definitely happens a lot. Here’s my feeling about this: If you love them, pretty much plan on them dying.
The kills are amazing. Was it tough to get the OK for such graphic moments?
Oh yeah. I mean, it’s interesting what the streamers push against and what they don’t. It seems violence is just fine. You know, the sex is a little harder to get through. [Laughs]
And what is the idea if this gets a second season? Would it be an anthology series?
Well, the end of the first season is very satisfying and there are openings to continue with these characters. And we seed some new characters from a different time. So there’s different ways to go, but I’ve left an opening to continue with these characters — the ones that are alive. [Laughs]
I Know What You Did Last Summer, Series Premiere, Friday, Oct. 15, Prime Video