Sunday, April 14, 2013

REVIEW: I Know Who Killed Me (2007)

Well, well, we’ve finally reached the film I’ve been putting off reviewing for so long: I Know Who Killed Me, one of the worst films of the 2000s according to the critics. Hell, it won just about every Razzie the year it came out. This is one of the few times I'm going to just straight up agree with the critics, no qualms at all - this really is objectively one of the worst films of the decade. It’s got an unwieldy, clumsy sounding title, it stars professional screw-up, former child star and rehab-clinic regular Lindsay Lohan, and it’s an ungodly piece of cinematic terrorism. That should be enough to justify this review’s existence! Yup. It is. Let’s get on with it, then.

Director: Chris Sivertson
Starring: Lindsay Lohan, Julia Ormond

We start off with what I like to call “positive, deep female character development”:

Yeah, if all you want in a movie is cheap stripping scenes that aren’t even really hot at all, you’ll be in paradise with this movie. But more on that later.

For now, we have some pretentious story being read by the world’s most generic high school student, Aubrey (played by the best actress ever, Lindsay Lohan). She’s writing about a girl who thinks she’s two separate people? If this weren’t an annoyingly contrived and asinine set-up for this movie’s very poorly written plot, I’d say this is incredibly half-assed. But then again, people tell me I nitpick sometimes.

We then see that Aubrey is so dedicated to her mediocre writing that she even quits piano lessons to focus more on her writing. Because doing both is just unheard of, and it’s really like she’s so jam packed in her schedule that she couldn’t find time after the lessons are over. Or maybe the movie is just really shitty, I dunno.

We also see some other exciting things, like how Aubrey has a boyfriend who thinks it’s a cool idea to tell her he loves her in the middle of science class, because that’s such a good place to do it, right? After that, to complete the butt-clenching awkwardness this movie has to offer, the teacher asks him to locate the female genitalia on their biology microscopes, and he points out the male genitalia instead. Yeah, that’s right; he told her he loves her in the middle of a science lesson on genitalia. Where’s Freud when you need him?

Touching your girlfriend's leg in science class while learning about genitalia; oh yeah, true love! This movie's up there with Cyrano de Bergerac and Casablanca!

At a football game later, we see that high school kids indeed play football, and afterwards, Aubrey goes missing while going to see her stupid boyfriend – although the crap-and-a-half editing will make this plot point as confusing as possible, not really making it clear at first what’s happened. Which is a pretty common theme in this movie, sadly. Her friends who we will never see again stand in one place, call her name three times and then deduce that because she didn’t answer, she must be missing.


Truly they should be the stars of the new Sherlock Holmes TV series that comes out next. They already had one with Watson as an Asian woman, so hey, why not? But I digress.

If you think all of this bland nonsense is exactly that, bland nonsense; well, you’d be right. Fortunately the film has other ways to suck right around the corner. Rather abruptly, the movie switches to some pained screaming and torture scenes, with Aubrey tied up on a table and getting her fingers cut off. This is the other big theme in the movie: fingers getting cut off!  Yeah, if the stripping scenes didn’t do it for you, at least you have the finger cutting scenes to get you going. But again, that will come more into play later on.

The jarring transition between the normal school night stuff and this is actually pretty good, but unfortunately this is just the beginning of a long, looooong train of unnecessary, gratuitous gore without any real purpose.

We then cut to a lady driving on the road, who discovers Aubrey bloodied and disfigured in a ditch – insert your own Lindsay Lohan in real life joke here; I’m above that. She’s taken to a hospital and is missing an arm and a leg – in maybe the only genuine moment in the film, she sees what’s happened to her and the effect is fairly disheartening. It’s probably the only moment that actually elicits sympathy for Lohan’s character. A notion that will be ruined by the bland writing and haphazard attempts at being deep to follow…

A tragic, affecting scene that I can empathize with. The movie realized this mistake and thus never did it ever again.

She claims she’s not Aubrey at all, and that she’s actually Dakota, a down-on-her-luck stripper who has truly lived the tough side of life. Or, what this movie THINKS is the tough side of life, but is really just a cobbled together pastiche of clichés that white suburban people think hard living is like. We get some flashbacks, and really, it’s just so trite. There’s no subtlety or depth here, and the character is about as believable as a multi-million dollar actress playing a downtrodden character from a bad neighborhood could ever be. Seriously, movie; just get real. Lindsay Lohan may have been a strung out, disgusting junkie at the time, but, in reality, she was being a strung out, disgusting junkie IN A REALLY NICE PENTHOUSE.

And the circle is complete: it is now impossible to care about her character in this film, after seeing this. Thank you and you're welcome.

And we come now to the most egregious, banal, talking-down-at-audience “symbolism” ever – literally everything in this movie is bathed in blue lighting for no reason. At first, for like the opening five or six minutes, it wasn’t too intrusive, but around the time this torture scene starts up, it just gets really stupid, and it’s ALL THE TIME. The blue coloring is supposed to represent Aubrey, and later on we’ll get a lot of red lighting for Dakota’s scenes. The lighting is supposed to symbolize which character is which, and show the contrast between their personalities, and honestly I can’t think of a way the director could have created something LESS intellectual and smart. I mean, c’mon, do we really need blue lighting for everything? Even for the tools the goddamn serial killer is using?

Did he just buy those at WalMart? Did he get a discount in the ‘everything blue’ section of the handyman’s construction aisle? Seriously movie, just because you’re trying to be all deep symbolism and character meaning doesn’t mean you have to stop making logical sense. You’re still operating in some form of the real world. It’s not like this is a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory knock-off. Sometimes, blue doesn’t have to be a metaphoric symbol for something else – sometimes it can just be the goddamned color blue.

Sigh. So at the hospital, Dakota talks to some cops who are unnecessarily hostile towards her and seem to not care at all about her well-being; just about questioning her because, well, that’s what the FBI does! Get with the program, man. They go back and forth, recounting some boring flashbacks, and I guess this could have been a decent mystery, but mostly it’s phoned in, the characters are unlikable and just spend a lot of time shouting at one another, and the whole thing is a lead-up to the movie’s first love: stripping scenes.

I know I should think this is really hot and everything, but come on: it’s grungy-looking and dirty as hell, the editing is like a rejected Rob Zombie music video and the music sucks. This isn’t sexy; it’s practically in need of a good bottle of Clorox, it looks so grimy. The way the film looks and the atmosphere being set up are like being on the inside of a porta-potty at a KISS concert in 95 degree weather. And the scene just drags on and on for like six or seven minutes or some shit. The story literally just stops in its tracks, in the middle of a flashback trying to explain something, to show the stripping scenes. Yeah. We get it. She has a tough life and needed to take a demeaning job to make money. For a movie trying to show us how bad this chick has it, it’s sure glorifying the exact undesirable position the main character only took as an easy way to get cash!

Real good message there, movie. Being a stripper sucks, life is hard, but just look at those tits and the way she moves that ass! Go to hell, movie; you’re a goddamned dirty hypocrite!

After that bullshit, we see Dakota fitted for a robotic arm and leg that will allow her to at least be a little bit normal again, and to go back to “home,” or Aubrey’s house, as they still think she’s just Aubrey with some mental trauma. Her boyfriend comes over and they go upstairs and find out how good sex is when one person only has one leg:

I swear if you cut out the stripping/sex scenes and the gore scenes, you wouldn't even have a movie anymore.

Hahahaha…ha…ha…ahh, where do I even start? The lighting is all blue, which begs the question: why would you have that much blue lighting in your room? I’ve heard of having a favorite color, but I’m fairly sure this would seriously just make you go blind after a while. I wonder what the process of pitching this to her parents was like…”Hey, mom and dad, I really feel like getting rid of the regular lights in my bedroom and replacing them all with really bright, obnoxious blue lighting! Can I have $300 to go do that?” “Why do you need all blue lighting?” “GOD! YOU JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND MY DEEP AND COMPLEX NEEDS!”

Another silly thing in this scene is the mother downstairs scrubbing the kitchen tiles with a sponge. I just think this is so hilariously inept…you get the sex scene interspersed with the mother cleaning furiously – get those stains out, mom! If this was intended to be funny as hell, good job, 10/10, two thumbs up. If it was intended to build character and show the difference between Aubrey and Dakota…well, back to the drawing board again, guys. You may just have to stay sober this time.

While they’re lying next to each other afterwards, the boyfriend asks Dakota what it was like to get cut like she did. This prompts a flashback to Dakota’s stripping days, when she was doing her thing on stage and her hand started to hurt. She went backstage afterwards, took off her glove AAAAAAANNNNNDDD…

Yeah, finger falling off? Not too big a deal I guess…she doesn’t accept anyone’s invite to take her to the ER like any sane person, no matter how downtrodden, would. Instead she wraps her hand up in a big towel, pretends it’s just a cut, and goes home. On the bus, she meets a guy who imparts some brilliant words of wisdom to her. They are words so poignant, so intelligent and so meaningful that Jesus Christ, Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi would swoon if they heard them. Are you ready, viewers, to witness this intellectual gestalt? Brace yourselves…

Then we go back to the present day, and Dakota repeats the same words to her boyfriend, as if that answers the whole question. Alright, seriously, what is up with the pacing in this movie? I guess by that I’m trying to say that there is no pacing. They set up that whole flashback for ONE LINE. They really needed like a five minute flashback to show why the character says one line? You could’ve easily cut out that whole scene and the movie wouldn’t have suffered for it. And this isn’t the only time it happens, either; almost every flashback is like this. The movie stops the story cold, focuses on some stripper bullshit and we forget where we were before the flashback until we’re abruptly jerked right back. It’s like the director had permanent short-term memory loss.

After this, the movie sinks into boredom as we get pretty much nothing worth talking about for like twenty minutes. We see Dakota doing some horror movie cliché researching scenes on the other girl who was murdered – even going into her house for a pointless five minute scene in which we learn nothing. I’m beginning to think ‘pointless’ is just this movie’s thing…like this scene, in which our lord and messiah "people get cut" guy returns for a bizarre cameo in Dakota's dream:

I'm just surprised there's a color in the movie that isn't red or blue.

He talks a lot of nonsense about people getting cut in half, which is related to the upcoming plot twist that, shock and awe, she is Aubrey's twin sister who got separated from her at birth! Why we needed this insane gibberish in the movie to get that point across, I have no earthly idea.

We also get some even more dull scenes where she researches the random bleeding spells she has and the weird way her fingers and limbs started falling off…surprisingly, she has waited this long to look into it. Odd. I’d probably investigate THAT right away, but then again I am not Lindsay Lohan. And yeah, these finger-cutting scenes are just awful. They’re grotesque for no reason, add nothing to the film beyond unpleasantness and are just generally a pain to look at. I guess you could argue that they’re effective in that they’re really, really hard to look at, but even then, the rest of the movie doesn’t go for these kinds of gross-outs – just these isolated scenes. And there’s the main problem with the film – well, one of them anyway: it can’t appeal to the gore crowd because it’s full of a bunch of stupid, sappy bullshit the rest of the time, and it can’t appeal to fans of elegant, dark thrillers because of the abundance of finger cutting scenes. It just appeals to no one.

They follow up a touching mother-daughter scene with I even have to say anything?

But either way, Dakota comes to the conclusion that only mentally lobotomized horror movie heroines would come to – she actually is related to Aubrey, who really was abducted by the killer, and the two share a psychic, stigmatic link that makes Dakota feel whatever pain Aubrey is in when the killer mutilates her. So whenever the killer cuts off one of Aubrey’s fingers, or a leg, the exact same thing happens to Dakota. That’s…so retarded I don’t even have words for it, but I’ll play along: this could have been an interesting idea, with way, way better writing. But the writing in this movie is about as good as a fifth grader’s school essay, so that’s out the window.

Sigh…we get some really dull scenes where Dakota finds out that it’s the piano teacher from the beginning behind it all. Really, the piano teacher did it? The piano teacher is your excuse for a Buffalo Bill-styled killer in this movie? Are you shitting me, or did we just get sucked into a South Park episode? South Park is usually way funnier than this, even at its worst, and I’m fairly sure there’s no shitting going on here, so I’m just going to go with the default option: the studio blew all its money on getting the gore effects, and forgot to hire a talented writer for the script.

Really, movie? Really? This guy would have been one of the random side killers that Hannibal Lecter killed off years ago in any of those movies. But here he's the main villain. Sad day.

And the motivation for him to mutilate and sadistically torture teenage girls? They dropped his piano lessons class. That’s it. That’s all we get…I’m really just at a loss for words at this point. Excuse me while I go violently strangle and murder the test dummies I keep in the back room for when I see movies like this, to let off some steam.

Still there? Cool.

Hey, now that I think of it, how did the police not suspect this guy? If the piano lessons are the common denominator between Aubrey and the other chick he killed, how did the FBI not immediately finger this guy for the killings?! I’m not even making a joke this time – I’ll just let this sink in. So two girls with a very obvious common denominator – their piano teacher – get killed/kidnapped, and the piano teacher isn’t questioned. WHAT PLANET IS THIS.

Good GOD, man - what are you even doing? All the Looney Tunes combined, Nicolas Cage and that plant lady from Troll 2 together couldn't beat this whackazoid in mugging to the camera! And yes, this is the image I am leaving you on.

Dakota kills him, I guess, and then goes outside and digs up the coffin where Aubrey got buried – of course the coffin is colored bright blue, ugh…and that’s just kind of how it ends. It doesn’t even really end. The camera just moves away from those two, focuses on some trees, and then the credits come up. I guess they just figured they’d tortured us too much already, and the only worse thing they could do at this point is physically send a madman to our houses and have him cut off our fingers.

This movie is horrible. It’s just a pain in the ass to watch and even a pain in the ass to think about. There’s literally nothing about it that comes off as well done – the acting is awful, the story squanders what little potential it had in a ton of unnecessary gore and stripping scenes and the directing is a confusing mess that can’t even tell the fairly basic story that well. Add to that the laughable pretension of trying to talk down to us with how obvious and blatant the symbolism of the red and blue lighting is – yeah, that’s got to be the worst attempt at complexity in a film I’ve ever seen in my life – and you’ve got a movie that makes a good alternative to brainwashing people for a sort of Clockwork Orange-esque youth correctional facility. Lord knows seeing this movie has already turned my brains to mush.

Frankly, I can’t think of a more wretched experience I’ve had lately. Just everything about this was botched beyond belief! If you really want to see this, if the plot just looks too irresistible, don’t bother renting it or even wasting the bandwidth to download it. Just follow these simple steps and you will get the effect of watching I Know Who Killed Me all the same:

1. Stand in front of a police car with the flashing red and blue lights on.

2. Cut your finger off.

And wallah! Now you can enjoy this movie with all its perks and wonders without ever actually having to pop in the DVD. Isn’t that great? I think it is. Well, I’ve said all I can say about this film, so I'm going to go off and do more productive things, like banging my head against a wall until I can forget everything I just saw and thought about. Let me know how those steps work out for you, guys!

The images in this review do not belong to me. They are copyright of their original owners. Please take them and never come back.