I Know Who Killed Me (2007)
Directed by Chris Siverston
Prior to seeing the film, I had intended to write the review for I Know Who Killed Me without mentioning Lindsay Lohan’s infamous personal problems. The few reviews I had scanned all seemed unable to restrain themselves from the same tired “I Know Who Killed My Career” jokes, and I wanted to avoid that trap. Guess what? It turns out there’s no way you can dissociate the Lindsay Lohan persona from this flick. In fact, as far as I can tell, the whole purpose of I Know Who Killed Me is to cast a high profile Hollywood narcissist in a horror movie about Platonic self-love. It’s pretty damn hilarious, but I don’t think the multiplex crowd is going to get it.
Anyone who is lucky enough to have seen director Chris Sivertson’s first film, The Lost (review), can’t help but be excited to see his follow-up effort. Here I go again, but like its famous star, the film I Know Who Killed Me is a bit of a trainwreck. Like trainwrecks, the movie is eminently watchable, but once the smoke has cleared, all those shiny little pieces still add up to a big mess.
Very little of the story can be revealed, since the whole thing is an elaborate setup for a twist ending. Ultimately, the payoff is shallow, but the artifice holds up for most of the film, leading you to believe that there’s more to it than a cheesy Cheech & Chong plot device (after seeing the movie you’ll know what I’m talking about). What can be told is that Lohan plays Aubrey, a snooty rich kid, who is kidnapped by a serial torturer with a penchant for amputating the limbs of his victims. After losing some important parts, Aubrey escapes; but after waking up in the hospital, she doesn’t recognize her family and insists that her name is Dakota. The bulk of the story is spent trying to resolve her true identity.
Ultimately, Sivertson has made an art-house horror movie but cast a star only the Entertainment Tonight, blockbuster crowd wants to watch. The look of the film is pure Bava with lots of super saturated colors, and cinematographer John Leonetti (who previously lensed Lucky McKee’s The Woods) never hesitates to take the film into color symbology territory; naturalism be damned. The acting and dialogure are largely melodramatic with over-the-top character actors, often framed in tight leering close-up, delivering campy lines without a hint of irony. In fact, much of the film is played for laughs, but the audience I saw it with wasn’t laughing much. People are going to go see this movie to watch Lindsay Lohan get either tortured or naked or both. While you get flashes of ultra-violence, it’s more Boxing Helena meets Fire Walk With Me than Hostel meets Hostel II. Those hoping for a hint of Lohan tit are also going to have to go elsewhere. Despite performing four stripteases and a sex scene, Lohan doesn’t go any farther than a bra with nipples sewn on the outside. This is Lohan’s idea of being a bad girl? Lame.
Now, to be fair, if I restate what I’ve just said and tell you that the film is visually stunning and experimental, that the horror is intense and cringe-worthy, and the overall tone is, (to contribute to an overused comparison) Lynchian, then you’d be forgiven for wanting to rush out and see the film. Such is the dilemma with recommending I Know Who Killed Me. It’s a huge mess, but at the same time I can’t shake the feeling that Sivertson’s movie will be with us for some time and that it’s only going to get better with repeated viewings. The whole twist ending, multiple red-herrings, serial killer plotline actually gets in the way of what this movie is really about, which is to explore self-obsessesion.
If I had to compare I Know Who Killed Me to one movie, and I mean this in the best possible sense, it would be Paul Verhoeven’s Showgirls. When it first came out, it was nearly impossible to see beyond the softcore sex and hilariously “bad” acting, but ultimately, I think Showgirls' indictment of stardom and what it takes to get there has been recognized as the Hollywood bitchslap it’s always been. I may be way off base, but I kind of feel like I Know Who Killed Me is Sivertson’s way of flipping the bird to Hollywood, and instead of delivering the Lohan star vehicle many were expecting, he went the other way and actually made a film that takes some chances, not least among them casting a purportedly self-obsessed young starlet in a self-love love story. Not all the experiments succeed, but many do.
The tabloid crowd is going to hate this movie, but educated horror fans will find much to like in it. Taken individually, many of the plot devices and twists are highly derivative, but Sivertson has skillfully molded an essentially pulpy story into something greater than the sum of its parts. Like its star, the film has an uneasy, illogical appeal and one that shows some promise of ripening with age.
3 out of 5
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