A friend of mine gleefully insists on referring to I Know Who Killed Me as "Lindsay Lohan's last movie ... ever!" and quite frankly, if the actress's career depended solely on the quality of this film, he might not be wrong. What is being billed as a suspenseful psychological thriller is lacking any suspense or psychological depth, and generates cheap thrills only from scenes of torture, gore, and the occasional "jump" moment of pseudo-shock. It is possibly the dumbest movie I've seen all year, surpassing Code Name: The Cleaner and Are We Done Yet?, which at least provided the occasional laugh.
The trailer and advertising for I Know Who Killed Me downplayed the fact that the R rating on this film isn't only for offensive language or nudity, but for violence and gore. I didn't realize this and judging by the number of kids in the preview screening crowd, I suspect I wasn't alone. The movie contains graphic scenes of dismemberment (and attempted re-attachment a la Sicko), photos of mutilated dead bodies, and torture-style violence. The decline of popularity in "torture porn" might have caused Tri-Star to downplay this aspect of the film, but it is a disservice to parents whose children still like Lohan from her Mean Girls and Herbie Fully Loaded days.
The movie opens with a shot of Lohan as a dancer at a strip club (although she doesn't strip very far), but then shifts gears as though it was all a dream, to show her as innocent small-town high-schooler Aubrey Fleming, who wants to be a writer. You can tell she's serious about it because she wears glasses when she's writing, and her workspace is full of post-it notes with plot elements. She even gives up her piano lessons to focus on her fiction. After a big football game, however, Aubrey goes missing ... and the town is still mourning a horrible kidnapping and death of one of her classmates from the previous month. We see Aubrey being tortured by an unknown assailant, but then she is found on the side of the road, alive but mutilated in the exact same way as the previous victim. And yet when the young woman awakens, she claims she isn't Aubrey at all, but a strip-club dancer named Dakota Moss. "Dakota" claims that Aubrey is still out there, perhaps still being brutalized.
Unfortunately, "Dakota" has the exact same accent, inflections and mannerisms as Aubrey, except that Dakota smokes, so the audience is more perplexed than intrigued. The plot makes no sense whatsoever, and it's so dull that we have time to wonder why it doesn't add up, which is fatal. Director Chris Sivertson has tried to cover up the lack of a coherent storyline with a lot of style, but the style involves tinting various scenes, or elements in scenes, in shades of blue or red. I wonder if Siverston wasn't influenced by The Sixth Sense, which uses spot color to foreshadow the twist ending. However, the spot color in I Know Who Killed Me is as subtle as a can of blue paint dumped on your head, and any intended surprises at the end are so ridiculous that you are only surprised the filmmakers would do something that lame. The climactic scene is supposed to be scary and thrilling, but the audience was continually laughing.
Another way in which the filmmakers tried to hide the lack of suspense was with the torture and violence scenes. Scott Weinberg may tease me for being squeamish about gore, but I have no problem with watching graphic violence (sometimes peeking through my fingers, admittedly) if some purpose is served, or if it's campy and cartoonish. There was no reason why we needed to see body parts being cut up, decomposing flesh, or any of the other gross shots that the camera lingered on needlessly. These elements were in the movie to try to make the audience flinch or react. While many people enjoy this type of entertainment, it seems more suitable to an exploitation flick than something billed as a suspense film.
One weird thing about this movie, which has to be coincidence because of the release dates, is the resemblance of Lohan-as-Dakota to Rose McGowan in the Planet Terror segment of Grindhouse. Both characters wear the same shade of red lipstick, they work as exotic dancers, and they both end up mutilated in a similar way. But McGowan's character was sensual with an edgy sense of humor, while Lohan isn't any sexier here than she was in Georgia Rule -- her stripper simply looks tired and bored (which may be more realistic, but doesn't engage viewers). Her character has no nuance or development. Not to mention that McGowan's character got much cooler artificial limbs.
I Know Who Killed Me has something else in common with Georgia Rule besides Lohan -- both would have worked better as indie films with smaller budgets and no stars. I can see I Know Who Killed Me reworked as a cheesy B-movie, perhaps a regional horror film from the 1980s. The lead role needed an actress who would relish playing two distinct personalities; even playing them both over-the-top would be preferable to Lohan's one-note performance. The role also would benefit from a screamer -- Lohan couldn't manage more than some feeble whimpers. The scene with Art Bell as himself gives us a taste of how this movie might have benefited from some campy, self-knowing touches. Unfortunately, I Know Who Killed Me is too boring and mediocre to become a midnight cult classic or an exploitation guilty pleasure.