I can think of any number of reasons to be sympathetic to the quality of I Know Who Killed Me. As pretty much every critic under the sun has pointed out, Lindsay Lohan’s screwed up personal problems are neatly coinciding with a really screwed up film. To be sure, it’s hard to divorce my knowledge of the tabloids from scenes in the film where Lohan downs pills with bottles of liquor. What also didn’t help was my actual movie going experience. The film was set to play at my local Carmike but according to the internet is was only playing at 10pm. Just one show time, sure doesn’t look good. But things got even more ridiculous. Upon arriving at the theater I looked for the film’s marquee, but there was none to be found. This is the right theater, right? I went up to the box office to check and the film wasn’t even listed! Jeez! I asked the ticket person if indeed the film was playing and she confirmed that it was and had no problem taking my eight dollars and seventy-five cents for a film which the theater wasn’t even bothering to advertise. I then chatted with this young woman for a few minutes about why the hell I was going to see this movie (with my friend Dan, no less) and pathetically I couldn’t even come up with a good reason. I went up to the guy who tears your ticket stub (is there a name for that? Usher, I guess) and this kid was all of fourteen years old. Upon seeing my ticket he snickered at me “Well, at least you get to see Lindsay Lohan’s boobs.” And oh my god! First of all, you do not get to see Lindsay Lohan’s boobs in this movie, and second of all this little punk just made me feel like a creepy old man going to a porno! If I wanted to do that I’d just watch Showgirls again, damnit! He was also too dumb to tell me where the theater was so I stood there looking around (surprise, surprise, there was no sign) until he finally he said it was the last theater to the right. And do you know what film normally plays in that theater? Ratatouille!!! All right, this is now just getting way too weird. So Dan and I take our seats and I’m surprised (and a little disappointed) that there are actually eight other people joining us. Anyway, the previews start (yeah, I know I still haven’t even gotten to the actual film) and the previews feature a Jodi Foster film called The Brave One about a woman and her husband who are brutally attacked by thugs, leaving the husband dead. Jodi Foster then turns to vigilante justice and gets her revenge on the thugs. Ok, looks dumb, but whatever. Second trailer, a Kevin Bacon film called Death Sentence, in which Bacon watches his son (I think) get murdered outside a convenience store and then… becomes a vigilante and gets his revenge against the thugs who did it? Are you kidding me??? The two trailers were literally back-to-back and the only difference seems to be a transposition of the protagonist’s gender!
All right, all right, maybe I should just get to the movie. Fine, but you asked for it! The film begins bathed in red. Red lights, red tinted lens, red costume on Lindsay Lohan who is playing a stripper. Geez, maybe I am seeing Showgirls again. Unlike Elizabeth Berkley, Lohan never loses more than her shirt in this movie, even as she gyrates around in a g-string which is pretty revealing, if that’s what you’re interested in. Anyway, as she’s sliding down the pole she leaves behind a trail of blood and… scene.
Cut to Lindsay Lohan narrating a story she wrote to class. Lohan is now playing Aubry, a cute suburbanite who wants to be a writer. The story is about a girl named Dakota, a stripper, and her crazy stripper life and she always felt like a part of her was missing, like she was only half a person. Weird! Aubry is narrating about the character we just saw who looks exactly like Aubry. I wonder where this is going. The kids in Aubry’s class certainly seen enrapt, I’m not feeling quite the same.
Anyway, my memory on the order of events is somewhat hazy, but we meet Aubry’s parents and her gardener, who is “foreshadowingly” using big hedge clippers. Meanwhile Aubry is having a piano lesson but she sucks and explains to her teacher that she hasn’t had time to practice. In fact, she’s quitting the piano. Now, I’ve had to tell a few music teachers that I was quitting in my time. And it is kind of a scary thing. After all, you’ve spent hours just trying to get this instructor to like what you’re producing, and now you have to tell them that you’re quitting. I always feel like I’m breaking the teacher’s heart. Of course, in reality it probably just means the instructor will need to pick up another student to keep the bills coming in and hell I was never all that good in the first place, no big loss. That’s real life. In this movie, the piano teacher actually is heartbroken and flies into a bit of a hissy fit about the whole thing. And oh, what’s this, sorry a telegraph just arrived, oh it’s one of those fancy ones that screams “MOTIVE” every time you open it. I wonder what that has to do with anything.
Anyway back at school Aubry is in science class and her boyfriend keeps trying to feel her up. Really blatantly too. Man is that obnoxious. We learn, however, that Aubry ain’t putting out for this guy (although apparently she has before) and even though he tells her he loves her, and gives her a blue rose the answer is still no. Ouch, I mean, his love seemed really heart-felt, too.
During class, the principle comes in and informs the teacher that a student who had been missing for days was found dead and horribly mutilated. The teacher then tells the class. The death of this girl has gotten the FBI involved as there are suspicions that they might have a serial killer on their hands. In case you were wondering, the FBI is absolutely incompetent in this movie.
That night is the big high school football game and I’m suddenly not sure if I’m actually watching Mean Girls again. But this football game is filmed with blue flashes going off all the time. The school team’s uniform is blue. Blue blue blue. What it all means, I don’t know. Aubry cheers on her boyfriend. After the game Aubry and her friends are going to a theater together and frankly I hope they have a much better time than I have thus far. Lohan sees her boyfriend up ahead in the crowd and tries to run up to catch him. Whether she is successful or not we don’t know as we next cut to her friends at the theater, waiting for her and frantically calling her cell phone. The boyfriend shows up and he says he hasn’t seen her either. Uh-oh spaghettios!
The FBI swoops in and the manhunt is on. Actually, there’s not much of a manhunt at all. Apparently all the FBI does is sit in their makeshift offices and surround themselves with pictures of the victims and theorize theorize theorize. Worse than a bunch of English professors, I tellz ya! Seriously, aren’t these guys supposed to be field agents. Shouldn’t they be out at the scene where Aubry was last, uh, seen? Interrogating the friends, boyfriend, parents. Finding out everyone who knew Aubry and might have had any reason to be hostile towards like, say, I dunno, the piano teacher she just fired? Also they all wear blue gloves. Could one of them be the murderer?
Well while all of the above is not going on, Lindsay Lohan, er, Aubry is strapped down to an operating table and is being harassed by a guy wearing blue gloves, a blue mask, and a blue hat. In fact, in the credits he is titled “The Blue Man.” And all I can do is hope that he actually works with several accomplices to commit his crimes so that they can collectively be known as “The Blue Man Group.” Alas, that’s too much to hope for. If, however, you’re hoping to see Lindsay Lohan tortured, well then this is your lucky night! First Blue Man compresses Lohans right hand in dry ice which, when removed, causes all her skin to peel off. Next he begins slicing off her fingers with a big blue glass knife. I admit, this is all pretty painful. I’m not an afficianado of films like Saw, and the fact that I could stomach all this without too much discomfort I’m guessing means that even as “torture porn” this movie is lackluster.
Anyway, Aubry is found that night on the side of the road by a passing motorist who just happens to be muttering into her cell phone that she feels like she’s only half a person. Where have I heard this before? Anyway, Aubry is taken to a hospital and doctors are forced to amputate her hand and her leg (the doctors, I might add, are all wearing the same damn blue gloves. I mean what, is there only one glove supplier for this whole damn town???). We now have the pleasure of watching and handless, legless Lindsay Lohan for the rest of the film. Aubry finally wakes up much to everyone’s joy, but we learn that in fact she isn’t Aubry, but Dakota. You remember, the stripper in Aubry’s story? Weird, right? Well this obviously causes a good deal of distress for the FBI and Aubry’s parents, but Dakota is dead-set on being who she says she is. The next couple scenes take place at the hospital where Dakota is given a prosthetic hand and leg in scenes oddly reminiscent of Star Wars. Meanwhile the FBI has a psychologist treat Dakota, but she figures out he works for the FBI and promptly refuses to talk to him. Everyone is convinced that Dakota is of course really Aubry and that she’s making up this alter-ego to deal with the trauma of her experience. Once again, the FBI apparently gets so hung up on this one witness that they never seem to do anything competent like, say, check the scene where “Dakota’s” body was found.
Meanwhile Dakota is finally allowed to go home, though under strict police surveillance. Despite this, the police have no problem letting Aubry’s boyfriend into the house even though at this point, frankly, he seems like a bit of a prime suspect to me. Well the boyfriend sees Dakota and listens inattentively as she tells him she’s not Aubry, but Dakota. He doesn’t seem at all bothered by this and promptly kisses her passionately. Dakota, stripper that she is, gives in quite quickly to his advances. They’re caught kissing by mom who, of course, acts flustered. Dakota meanwhile says that she and the boyfriend are going up to her room. They proceed to do so as mom stands there dumb founded and Dakota and the boyfriend, well, they get it on big time. There are all sorts of reasons why this is weird, and none of them have to do with Dakota’s prosthetics. First of all, I’m pretty sure they advise against strenuous activity after leaving the ER. Dakota shows no signs of pain during this romp in the hay. Secondly, doesn’t the boyfriend feel a little weird about screwing someone who explicitly says she’s not his girlfriend? I mean, if he thinks it’s just in Aubry’s mind, isn’t he still majorly taking advantage of her psychosis? Thirdly, the two are incredibly loud, so we get to intercut between the lovefest and mom furiously cleaning the kitchen sink (that one’s for you, Sam, but no, really, she’s actually cleaning the kitchen sink).
Once the two have finally f’d the hell out of each other they lie back as Dakota lights up a cigarette. She finally decides to open up a bit and tells the boyfriend about her past. It turns out Dakota’s mom was a crackwhore who got a little money each week which she was supposed to give to Dakota but mainly just spent on drugs. Dakota goes to pick up the cash and finds her mom dead with only eleven dollars to her name. So it’s off to the stripper industry as we get a repeat of the opening scene of the movie as Dakota writhes around on stage and bleeds on the pole. In her dressing (or, more appropriately, undressing) room Dakota painfully takes off her stripper gloves and… her finger falls off. Which is pretty amusing. She wraps her hand in a towel and takes off. While waiting for the bus she sees a strange man staring at her from a distance. This man apparently has teleportation powers as he eventually materializes right next to Dakota at the bus stop. Luckily the bus arrives and she climbs aboard. On the bus she continues to bleed profusely, and a good Samaritan tells her to hold her hand above her heart to stop the bleeding. Beyond that he’s not really interested in what happened to her: “We all get cut sometimes.” Ah, nothing like a bit of quaint urban wisdom.
This encourages the boyfriend to help Dakota escape from the house so she can investigate these mysterious events. Well it’s about time somebody decided to do that! I’ll spare you the details, but they involve the boyfriend asking the FBI agents for a condom (they get a real kick out of this) and then he smuggles Dakota out in the trunk of her car. He drops her off at the house of the first girl who was murdered. Dakota goes inside and asks the parents questions about what happened to their daughter. The mom, being a woman, goes into a tizzy and runs away crying. The dad, being a male, is sensible and let’s Dakota see the dead girl’s room. The room is filled with “creepy” dolls which have no bearing on anything whatsoever, but up on a shelf Dakota spies a trophy which is instantly recognizable as a (blue) piano competition award. She can’t quite grab it off the shelf because Aubry’s parents show up and haul her back to the house. Damn! If only she had been able to touch the trophy the mystery would be solved. But as of now, I have no clue who the killer might be.
Back at the house the film starts to really go insane. Honestly, up to this point it was pretty boring, but from here on in the weirdness of the filmmakers picks up the slack in the plot. Dakota starts having visions of creeks and the scene of the crime and flashbacks to memories which she isn’t sure are Aubry’s or hers. Explaining this in any more detail, I can assure you, would be quite pointless. Anyway, all this gives Dakota the idea that something is definitely up so she hops online and (PRODUCT PLACEMENT) goes to Ask.com for answers. Google, I guess, wisely decided to skip this film. She “Asks” about stigmata and gets the weirdest scene in the entire movie. Art Bell, a famous paranormal researcher/broadcaster, comes on the screen and explains to us (and Dakota) the mysteries of twin stigmata. Basically, whenever a twin gets injured or killed, the other twin suffers the same physical symptoms.
Dakota finally puts it all together. She and Aubry are actually twins, separated at birth! But who could do such a thing? Well, a couple visions later (I’m really foggy on this, but then so was the movie) Dakota realizes that Aubry’s dad is responsible. You see, Aubry’s mom had a bad fall during her pregnancy and had to have special procedures for her birth. Despite this, the child still died soon after. Meanwhile Dad, not wanting his wife to be heartbroken, made a deal with a crackwhore who just had twins to buy one of the twins and give it to the mom. This explains where the cash to the crack whore mom had been coming from all this time. It was really Aubry’s dad! Whew, got that? Dakota confronts Aubry’s dad who eventually confesses and Dakota finally delivers the title line (which really makes no sense): “I know who killed me.” Dad agrees to help her catch the villain, yup, it’s the piano teacher, and they drive off to his house.
Dad makes a comment about how it’s a stupid idea not to call the FBI, but, well, when you compare it to all the other stupid ideas in this movie it really ain’t that bad. They arrive at the house and the dad goes inside while Dakota waits in the car. Nothing happens for a while and Dakota finally decides to investigate herself. Er, investigate the house herself. She goes around the side of the house and tries to go into a shed but stupidly knocks over a bucket. The Blue Man (what, does this guy always wear blue? What if a neighbor came over t borrow some sugar?) looks out the window but doesn’t see Dakota. Dakota then goes back into the deep dark scary shed which is actually a basement as well (weird architectural choice, that one). Anyway it’s creepy and prosthetic limbs are hanging everywhere when suddenly a blue hand bursts out the door and tries to grab Dakota. Bad move, however, as Dakota uses her bionic hand to grip the Blue Man. She then picks up one of the many glass knives lying around and hacks off the guy’s hand!!! This of course allows him to escape. Dakota follows, but is stopped by the sight of Aubry’s dad lying in a pool of blood. He dies, but in so doing distracts Dakota long enough for the Blue Man to sneak up on her and knock her out. She awakes ties to a work table. The Blue Man, now revealed formally to be the piano teacher, is upstairs playing some really awful piano with only one hand. Stupidly, he tied Dakota to a work table covered in yet more glass knives. She procures one and waits for her moment to strike. The piano teacher comes back down stares, does his creepy stuff, and then Dakota attacks, stabbing him once in the gut and once in the neck. He stumbles around for a few seconds and then collapses. Dakota then heads outside and sees things familiar to her visions. She manages to find the spot where Aubry has been buried and disinters her. Aubry is alive (and is wearing what appears to be a Victorian wedding dress for some reason). The two sisters embrace and lie down together in the woods. The end.
Now, stupid as all that sounds, would you believe there is actually heated discussion that in fact this movie is grossly misunderstood? That in fact it’s something of a masterpiece? On imdb.com forums several people are defending the movie as being a psychological manifestation of Aubry’s mind to help her escape from the pain of the torture. The whole Dakota plot (almost the entire movie) is really just being made up by the tortured Aubry. The visions that Dakota has are actually moments when Aubry’s own consciousness interrupts her escapist fantasy. Blue is the color of winners, red the color of losers. According to this theory, Aubry actually does die at the end of the film and the whole plot after her abduction never really happened.
It’s an interesting theory and I applaud people willing to take the time to make it up (see my Jaws the Revenge recap). But the thing is, this theory could only have been posited about a movie this bad. A key component of theory is that the constant clichés in the film are really all in Aubry’s mind. After all, that’s all an eighteen year old girl would know right, cliché? Of course, if this were a good movie to begin with, if it hadn’t been filled with cliché, this argument paradoxically would be a lot less convincing. Still google, er, “Ask.com” the debate and see what you think. For me it’s complete extrapolation and fallacious argument. There are just too many inconsistencies with the theory and what the film actually depicts. If you want to apply a bit of the old Occam’s razor to it, ask yourself which is the simpler solution: a bunch of idiots made a bad movie or a bunch of geniuses actually created a brilliant psychological thriller which “tricked” every mainstream movie critic in the country? Anyway, I know a few film producers who I’d very much like to apply an Occam’s razor to. And that, my friends, is I Know Who Killed Me.