I've Been Waiting for You (1998)
When new teenager Sarah arrives in town, she is accused by her classmates of being the descendant of a witch who was burned at the stake three hundred years earlier. That witch swore to kill the descendants of those responsible, the most current living relatives being teenagers at Sarah's new school who aptly call themselves 'The Descendants Club.' It isn't long before a mask-wearing, claw-handed psychopath begins tormenting Sarah and the members of the Descendants Club.
After Lois Duncan’s novel I Know What You Did Last Summer was turned into a successful teen slasher flick, it was only a matter of time before her other less famous work would be pillaged for material to adapt onto the screen in similar post-modern teen horror style. Loosely based on the novel Gallows Hill, I’ve Been Waiting For You shares many similarities with its bigger budgeted cousin but borrows heavily, as one would expect, from recent hits Scream and The Craft. The result is about as generic a late 90s-early 00s TV movie teen horror could get.
I’ve Been Waiting For You is lightweight horror, sorely lacking anything remotely packing a suspenseful punch due to its feeble TV movie roots. Whether the novel itself is juicer and more violent remains to be seen, but the screenplay neuters everything down to the bare minimum so it could easily be televised. I’m sure it’ll scare younger viewers but for anyone wanting something meaty, this isn’t the place to come. The opening burning of the witch starts things off on a passable note but then the whole thing proceeds into a run-of-the-mill whodunit which is not very interesting and rather bland.
The main problem is that I’ve Been Waiting For You just doesn't engage enough with the genre it's meant to be a part of - there's little horror here at all. When a film uses the old chestnut of the cat jumping into the frame as its main scare, then you know you’ve got problems. You never get the impression that the main cast are in any real danger as there is no sense of impending doom lurking around. At times the whole ‘killer on the loose’ thing seems to be more of a side distraction. Stalking scenes are short and tedious and when the killer does get physical, the film has a tendency to cut away from showing anything (one on-screen death if memory serves me). Avid slasher films will spot the psycho early on despite blatant red herrings being forced down our throats. And most annoyingly, the killer also has the uncanny habit of whispering the film’s title at every given opportunity. I’m sure that after the sixth time of repeating the phrase, the characters know that the killer has been waiting for them.
There’s no gore on offer because no one gets killed by the ‘killer’ directly, only scared to death by them. If they weren’t going to use the cool-looking claw-hand weapon for some on-screen carnage, then why bother giving them it in the first place? The gremlin-lite mask is unconvincing and, coupled with the black cloak, makes them come off as some bargain budget Ghostface. The actor underneath the costume has no physical presence whatsoever either, ruining a lot of the illusion that the characters are truly in danger. A chase scene through the woods sums up the hilarity of this little psycho, provoking chuckles rather than scares. The killer fisherman from I Know What You Did Last Summer would turn this loser over in a second.
The cast of I’ve Been Waiting For You are the most interesting things about it as many of them have gone on to bigger and better things. Sarah Chalke went on to a starring role in Scrubs and Ben Foster hit the big time with star turns in 3:10 To Yuma and Pandorum. Christian Campbell is the kid brother of Scream's Neve Campbell, presumably why he was cast in the first place. Overall, the cast is decent enough in their roles, with Chalke being a spunky and likeable lead, but the script just doesn’t do anything with them outside of allocate them stereotypical one-note teen characters to stick to. It is more of a shop window for their talent than it is an actual horror film.
This is horror with a blunt edge, neutered of anything distinctive and full of the usual teen horror clichés. If you ever wanted further evidence of why the late 90s teen horror movement kick-started by Scream, was here and gone in a flash, then look no further than I’ve Been Waiting For You – the embodiment of dull, hollow horror with gloss, good-looking casts and no clue with what to do with itself.
I've Been Waiting for You
Director(s): Christopher Leitch
Writer(s): Lois Duncan (novel "Gallows Hill"), Duane Poole (television story)
Actor(s): Sarah Chalke, Soleil Moon Frye, Ben Foster, Christian Campbell, Maggie Lawson, Chad Cox
Duration: 90 mins