I Know Who Killed Me

Even if you accept the premise that viewers want to see their celebrities punished, the violence against Aubrey is extreme.

I Know Who Killed Me

Director: Chris Sivertson
Cast: Lindsay Lohan, Julia Ormond, Neal McDonough, Brian Geraghty, Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon, Spencer Garrett, Gregory Itzin
MPAA rating: R
Studio: Columbia Pictures
First date: 2007
US Release Date: 2007-07-27 (General release)
People get cut. That's life.

-- Kid on the bus

"She knew a trick," reads Aubrey (Lindsay Lohan) in her high school creative writing class. "She knew how to turn her life into a movie and watch what happened." Given the much-discussed circumstances surrounding the release of I Know Who Killed Me, this early scene sounds almost inspired. How better to describe the bizarre, increasingly toxic relationship between starlets and their consumers -- a disturbing mix of over-identification and rupture premised on making everything into "a movie"?

Even if you accept this premise, and with it the idea that viewers want to see their celebrities punished, the violence against Aubrey is extreme. While Chris Sivertson's movie is certainly bad, its broader resonances are worse. That the violence appears directed against Lohan -- again, given her incessant abuses by media ("We are all tabloid now") -- only makes it more difficult to watch. This begins with the opening scene, the seeming "movie" that Aubrey goes on to cite as her coping mechanism: Stripper Lindsay in red light with a pole. Her lips are luscious and her body fit, but she's a terrible dancer and the men who watch are barflies of the most tedious sort. She has some sort of dreadful hallucination, in which her pole bleeds all over her hand, and with that the film begins again, with Aubrey's relatively sedate narration.

But she's not sedate, not by a long shot. Even the good girl in this vile vision deserves retribution, because she flirts with the "help" (a gardener of some sort, who holds up a large stick to simulate his erection as she emerges from her sports car in her parents' swank 'burban driveway. She saunters away and gives him the finger, but not before you're thinking what he is, that she's interested. It's tedious and sad, and you'd rather not be watching this movie.

Still, Aubrey is supposed to be the "good girl," which is reduced here to the fact that she resists her piano teacher's creepiness and won't have sex with her terminally bland football player boyfriend Jerrod (Brian Geraghty). She says it's because she's headed to college in the fall, but she also look to have some principles: responding to his hand on her thigh in science class, she hisses, "Is that all I am to you, a way to relax yourself before the game?" She does, however, go to the game, then wanders off into an incredibly hectic crowd in what appears the town's center. Just like that, Aubrey's kidnapped by the local serial killer, who wears a blue-man mask and dismembers girls. She cries a lot while he cuts off her fingers, arm, and leg in yucky close-up.

Meanwhile.... Aubrey's missingness upsets the otherwise lackadaisical townsfolk. It even occasions some emoting by her pretty parents, Susan (Julia Ormond) and Daniel (Neal McDonough), who affect that sort of liberalish inattention that movies like to indict, though it's revealed -- much later -- that dad really is caddish, inept, and deceptive à la The Omen about Aubrey's birth.

Several worried-parents scenes later, Aubrey seems to reappear by the side of a road, minus an arm, a leg, and her memory (the film treats this as incidental, but it's disturbing that she's discovered by yet another girl who's crying for unknown reasons as she drives her car, suggesting that all the girls in this neck of the woods are in trouble of various sorts). The found girl insists that her name is Dakota, that she's a stripper raised by a crack-head mom, and that she has no idea how she was injured: her limbs were "just gone." (She also has perfect makeup in every scene, for which the film offers no explanation.)

Now, bless her, Lindsay Lohan has Serious Acting to do, and she's more than able. For it is not Aubrey (who named this child?) who's been found, but actually Dakota, her twin sister from whom she was separated at birth (this is Daniel's lie: he bought a baby from a crack ho in the hospital). The sister provides the sinister basis for Aubrey's lifelong sense of doubleness ("I feel like half a person, we're finishing each other's sentences") and omigod, Dakota is the same stripper Aubrey imagined in the opening scene. Or maybe it was Dakota imagining Aubrey. The film's tricky like that.

At least it seems tricky to the two FBI agents on the case, Bascome (Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon) and Lazarus (Spencer Garrett), who are dumb like bags of hammers. (Bascome's analysis of the torture-porn freak: "The cutting is about punishment, but he doesn't like the dying part"). They suspect Dakota (whom they believe is Aubrey) is lying, and so they interrogate her at the hospital, as does their part-time shrink (Gregory Itzin, whom Dakota is surely right to distrust, as he played 24's President Logan). Their adversarial questioning brings out some entertaining meanness in Dakota. "I didn't grow up in New Salem," she snarls, "I grew up in the real world." Well, it's gritty in her flashbacks, anyway.

Unable to countenance everyone's desperation (her life has always sucked, and now the suburbanites' lives suck too: so what?), Dakota yells at Susan when she offers toys from Aubrey's childhood, because she's heard that such cues help coma victims: "Do I look like I'm in a fucking coma?", barks Dakota. She's even less patient with the dopey feds. When they ask how she feels, she erupts: "How the fuck would you feel? I practically fucking died. Now I'm locked up in this fucking hospital like a goddamn prisoner." Grrr.

Tough chick Dakota does take a few moments to describe her hard, lonely youth, including the part when she discovers her mother dead of an overdose (cue: gray, slack-jawed corpse flashback). The poor child has low expectations but she's wily too, instructing Daniel and Susan as to the illogic of their insistence that she's Aubrey ("Why would I pretend to be someone else if I had all this shit?"), not anticipating the big lie that Daniel will eventually confess (though you suspect something like this is coming, however preposterous). At last, Dakota's so aggravated by the slow-wittedness that begins to follow her own hunches, escaping the agents with help from Jerrod (whom she sexes expertly, even without a leg, thus securing his instant loyalty). After tracking a few keywords on the internet, she finds "Stigmata Twins," thus determining her fate: she must save her twin, whose dismemberment by the serial killer caused her to lose her limbs (the film stretches the concept of "stigmata" here). Venturing into the dark woods without a cell phone, she faces down the monster and rediscovers her own sweetness. Sort of.

As preposterous as all this plotting sounds, the film's structure is worse, at once clichéd and outrageous: frequent pole-dancing flashbacks show Lindsay in lingerie (other girls go bare-breasted) and accosted by a wiry boss-lady who says that the legitimacy of Dakota's ID is of no concern to her (if it says she's 21, "You're fucking 21 to me"). Some set-ups have no follow-through, and some scenes make no sense at all: Dakota is actually warned by a character named "Saeed the Prosthetic Tech" (Eddie Steeples) that her new leg's battery will wear down, but then, just when it should in the killer's basement... it doesn't.

It's possible the movie seemed to Lohan and/or her handlers a means to transition from her Disney movies into "adult" fare. It's also possible that no one read a script or that she is truly surrounded by people who do not have her best interests at heart. It's almost understandable that she would melt down in the face of a publicity tour for I Know Who Killed Me (Rob Schneider has no excuse, however).

Insisting that her badly-written reality is more real than Dakota's, Bascome observes, "She's living in a world she made up." Not exactly. Dakota -- and Aubrey and Lohan too -- live in a world everyone else made up, struggling to make sense of all the absurdity and nastiness, fitting in ridiculously well, and suffering for it.


So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.