Julie James (I Know What You Did Last Summer)

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Julie James
I Know What You Did Last Summer character
First appearance
Last appearance
Created byLois Duncan
Portrayed byJennifer Love Hewitt
In-universe information
GenderFemale
Occupation
  • High school student
  • College student
Significant otherRay Bronson
OriginSouthport, North Carolina
StatusAlive

Julie James is a fictional character in the I Know What You Did Last Summer franchise. The character was created by American writer Lois Duncan and appears in her 1973 suspense novel I Know What You Did Last Summer. In the story, Julie is a young woman whose friend group is involved in a hit-and-run accident. Actress Jennifer Love Hewitt portrayed Julie in the Kevin Williamson-scripted feature film I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997), in which she is the final girl. She returns in the sequel I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998).

In 2018, Bianca Giselle portrayed the character in the musical parody I Know What You Did Last Summer: The Unauthorized Musical that premiered at the El Cid in Los Angeles. Over the years, the character has received generally weak reception because of her role in the film, with many arguing that other characters in the story were more compelling and should have survived over Julie.

Appearances[edit]

Literature[edit]

Julie originates from Lois Duncan's 1973 suspense novel I Know What You Did Last Summer. She is a high school senior who was involved in a hit-and-run accident of a cycling boy with her boyfriend Ray Bronson, and friends Barry Cox and Helen Rivers. One year later, she receives a sinister note alluding to a past tragedy involving herself and her group. Despite Ray's attempts to reassure her, Julie's instincts drive her to seek answers, further reinforced when she visits Helen, hoping for comfort and support. She suggests visiting the Greggs, the family of David, the boy who died in the accident, in search of clues. During their visit to the Gregg household, Julie engages in conversation with Megan, David's mother, hoping to glean information about the mysterious note. Through their conversation, Julie learns more about the impact of David's death on the Gregg family, deepening her empathy for their grief. Julie's resolve is further tested when Barry is shot and left paralyzed. She supports Ray as he grapples with guilt and tries to convince Barry to break their pact of silence. As the tension escalates, Julie's instincts lead her to suspect Collie, a new acquaintance of Helen's, as the perpetrator behind the threats. Her suspicions are confirmed when Collie reveals himself to be David's brother and attempts to harm her. In a climactic confrontation, Julie finds herself in mortal danger as Collie, now revealed as Bud, attempts to kill her. Through sheer willpower and determination, Julie survives the ordeal, rescued by Ray's timely intervention. Throughout the harrowing ordeal, Julie undergoes a profound transformation, emerging as a resilient and courageous young woman. Her unwavering determination to uncover the truth and confront her fears ultimately leads to her survival and newfound strength.

Film[edit]

Julie makes her cinematic debut in the 1997 film. On the Fourth of July, her friend Helen Shivers wins the Fourth of July Croaker Beauty Pageant and after celebrating, Julie and Helen go to the beach with Julie's boyfriend Ray Bronson and Helen's boyfriend Barry Cox. While driving on the byway, they accidentally run over a pedestrian. They decide to dump the body into the sea and never talk about what happened. One year later, Julie left Southport, North Carolina, and receives a letter that reads "I know what you did last summer!". Returning to her hometown, she reunites with Helen, Barry, and Ray, telling them that the man they hit was named David Egan and that his death was labeled an accidental drowning. When a hook-handed killer begins to menace the town, Helen and Julie visit David's sister Missy for more information, but Julie is overcome with guilt and leaves. Julie returns to Missy's, only now with suspicion of a man named Billy Blue. Missy tells Julie that David killed himself and Julie figures out that David wasn't the man they hit, and that another man named Ben Willis is likely the culprit. Ben tricks Julie into boarding his boat before undocking it. Ray catches up to their boat and saves Julie by cutting Ben Willis's hand off and sending him overboard.

Julie returns in the film's 1998 sequel. With the first anniversary of the events of the first movie, Julie has become increasingly paranoid, but her spirits seem lifted when she and her new friend Karla win four tickets to the Bahamas, enough for them, Karla's boyfriend Tye, and one more person. Julie initially wants Ray to come, but he declines and Julie instead invites her other friend Will Benson. While karaoke there, Julie receives a message on the karaoke machine, reading "I still know what you did last summer." When people start being murdered, Julie starts seeing visions of their corpses, and when she asks to leave she is told that an upcoming storm means that that is not possible. The killer tries to tie a tanning bed shut with Julie inside, but she is saved by her friends. With all the hotel staff being murdered, the group is ambushed by the killer, who is revealed to be Ben Willis, who survived the first movie, and Will, who is revealed to be his son. Julie is saved by Ray again, who just arrived on the island and takes down Will. Julie then shoots Ben to death. The next morning, Julie, Karla, and Ray are rescued from the island.

In popular culture[edit]

The character was spoofed in the 2000 parody film Scary Movie. The character Cindy Campbell, played by Anna Faris, was based on Julie and Sidney Prescott. Jennifer Love Hewitt appeared in a cameo in the Boy Meets World episode And Then There Was Shawn in which she parodied a scene where Julie shouts in the 1997 film.[1][2]

In 2018, Bianca Giselle was cast in the musical parody I Know What You Did Last Summer: The Unauthorized Musical that premiered at the El Cid in Los Angeles.[3][4]

Reception[edit]

Julie is generally considered a weak final girl character due to her incompetence, passive behaviour, and lack of redeeming qualities compared to other characters in the franchise, most notably Helen Shivers, Ray Bronson, and Karla Wilson. Writing for Bloody Disgusting in 2017, Trace Thurman wrote that “Julie James is a terrible Final Girl”, arguing that the character Helen Shivers should have filled the role, saying “Helen is a much deeper and [more] likable character. Julie is boring and useless”.[5] In 2021, WhatCulture listed Julie as one of 5 horror movie characters who should have died, arguing that she is “one of horror's weakest final girls” and that “Helen Shivers is far more likeable and entertaining than the film's actual protagonist”.[6] Jack Pooley of WhatCulture also believed Julie is difficult to root for, as “she's just not particularly likeable or interesting”.[7] In 2021, Amanda Bruce of Screen Rant criticised Julie's lack of initiative, writing that “Julie doesn't actually get to do much fighting. More often than not, it's her high school boyfriend who fights her battles after she's done her best to confront the bad guy”.[8] Jacki Billings of PewPew Tactical criticised Julie in the first movie, calling her a “damsel in distress”, but praised her development in its sequel, writing “In the second film, Julie comes a little more into her own”.[9] Daric L. Cottingham of reckon argued that in the sequel, Karla Wilson was a more interesting character, writing “While Julie is the main character, it’s Karla who shines throughout the movie”.[10]

Kate Hudson of Pajiba wrote “Julie is an OK final girl, it’s just that Helen would have been better”.[11] Shaun Stacy of SlashFilm praised Julie's characterisation, writing “Julie is highly resourceful; she's a survivor even if she doesn't always want to be, and that's more realistic than anything else we had seen in a horror film in a long time”.[12] Hewitt's role in the film led to her being considered a scream queen. Josh Sorokach of Decider praised the actress's scream, writing “Sidney Prescott may be tougher, but the true queen of scream is Jennifer Love Hewitt”.[13]

Desirae Gooding-Nieves of CBR criticised Julie's character in comparison to Helen's, writing, “By granting Julie the unearned and predictable status of final girl, I Know What You Did Last Summer fails to cement itself as anything unique or surprising”.[14] Victoria Rose Caister of Game Rant said, “She puts herself in unnecessary danger in a way that comes across far more idiotic than heroic”.[15]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Alter, Ethan (4 October 2023). "How Jennifer Love Hewitt ended up in the 'Scream'-inspired episode of 'Boy Meets World'". Archived from the original on 13 March 2024. Retrieved 13 March 2024.
  2. ^ Ringle, Daniel (31 October 2023). "Boy Meets World Still Has the Best Halloween Special". CBR. Archived from the original on 18 March 2024. Retrieved 17 March 2024.
  3. ^ Highfill, Samantha (12 September 2018). "I Know What You Did Last Summer: The Unauthorized Musical finds its cast". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on 14 March 2024. Retrieved 13 March 2024.
  4. ^ "I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER: THE UNAUTHORIZED MUSICAL Makes Its Way Back To Los Angeles". Broadway World. 12 April 2019. Archived from the original on 14 March 2024. Retrieved 13 March 2024.
  5. ^ Thurman, Trace (10 July 2017). "Is Julie James the Worst Final Girl in Horror History?". Archived from the original on 13 March 2024. Retrieved 13 March 2024.
  6. ^ Rennie, Madison (2 December 2020). "5 Horror Movie Characters Who Should Have Died (And 5 We Wish Hadn't)". WhatCulture. Archived from the original on 13 March 2024. Retrieved 13 March 2024.
  7. ^ Pooley, Jack (10 June 2021). "10 Horror Movies That Chose The Wrong Survivor". WhatCulture. Archived from the original on 13 March 2024. Retrieved 13 March 2024.
  8. ^ Bruce, Amanda (24 February 2021). "Horror Movie Final Girls Ranked From Least To Most Likely To Survive The Hunger Games". Screen Rant. Archived from the original on 13 March 2024. Retrieved 13 March 2024.
  9. ^ Billings, Jacki (30 October 2023). "7 Best Final Girls of Horror [& Weapons of Choice]". Pew Pew Tactical. Archived from the original on 13 March 2024. Retrieved 13 March 2024.
  10. ^ "These 'Final Girl' horror films will get you in the spooky spirit". Reckon. 13 October 2023. Archived from the original on 13 March 2024. Retrieved 13 March 2024.
  11. ^ Hudson, Kate (31 October 2019). "Sarah Michelle Gellar was Done Dirty. 'I Know What You Did Last Summer' Had the Wrong Final Girl". Archived from the original on 14 March 2024. Retrieved 13 March 2024.
  12. ^ Stacy, Shaun (17 September 2021). "The 15 Best Final Girls In Horror Movies Ranked". SlashFilm. Archived from the original on 24 February 2024. Retrieved 13 March 2024.
  13. ^ Sorokach, Josh (21 October 2016). "Final Girl Friday: Jennifer Love Hewitt's Julie James Is The True Queen Of Scream". Decider. Archived from the original on 2 March 2024. Retrieved 13 March 2024.
  14. ^ Gooding-Neives, Desirae (21 April 2022). "I Know What You Did Last Summer Ended with the Wrong Final Girl". CBR. Archived from the original on 16 March 2023. Retrieved 13 March 2024.
  15. ^ Rose Caister, Victoria (26 June 2022). "5 Worst Horror Movie Heroes". Game Rant. Archived from the original on 28 May 2023. Retrieved 13 March 2024.