Today, I’m going to take a look at the disastrous Lindsay Lohan vehicle, I Know Who Killed Me.
The plot of I Know Who Killed Me is summarized on IMDb as follows:
A young woman who was missing reappears, but she claims to be someone else entirely.
I Know Who Killed Me was directed by Chris Sivertson, whose handful of credits include All Cheerleaders Die, The Lost, and writing the screenplay for the movie Marauders. The sole screenwriter for this movie, Jeff Hammond, notably has no other listed credits on IMDb.
The central cast for the film is made up of Lindsay Lohan (Machete, Herbie Fully Loaded, The Parent Trap), Julia Ormond (Mad Men, Legends of the Fall), Neal McDonough (Minority Report, Timeline, Flags of our Fathers), and Brian Geraghty (The Hurt Locker, Flight, Jarhead).
The cinematographer for I Know Who Killed Me was John R. Leonetti, whose credits include The Conjuring, Insidious, The Scorpion King, Joe Dirt, Mortal Kombat, Child’s Play 3, and The Mask.
I Know Who Killed Me‘s editor was Lawrence Jordan, who also cut the movies Jack Frost, Fallen, Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo, Are We There Yet?, Fifty Shades of Black, and Furry Vengeance.
The musical score for the film was composed by Joel McNeely, who also provided music for the films Holes, Vegas Vacation, Virus, Soldier, A Million Ways To Die In The West, and The Avengers.
Reportedly, Linday Lohan often no-showed or arrived late to set during the filming of I Know Who Killed Me, to the point that body doubles were used for a number of sequences. Her substance abuse issues also eventually impacted the film’s promotion, as she had a DUI arrest just before a scheduled appearance to plug the movie on The Tonight Show.
I Know Who Killed Me wound up setting a record for the most Golden Raspberry Awards for a single movie, winning 8 of its total of 9 nominations. However, the record was toppled only a few years later by Adam Sandler’s Jack & Jill.
The original ending of I Know Who Killed Me revealed that the entire story was the content of a college student’s paper. However, the ending was so reviled by test audiences that it was re-cut, and now only exists as a deleted scene on the movie’s DVD release.
I Know Who Killed Me was featured on one of the earliest episodes of the lauded bad movie podcast, The Flop House, which is now one of the most beloved podcasts on the subject of bad movies.
The production budget for I Know Who Killed Me was reported to be $12 million, on which it took in a lifetime theatrical gross of $9.6 million, which made it a significant financial failure. However, the film’s critical failure was even more dramatic: it currently holds an IMDb user rating of 3.6/10, alongside unenviable Rotten Tomatoes scores of 7% from critics and 25% from audiences. In her brutal review for the New York Daily News, Elizabeth Weitzman wrote that:
No review could really do justice to the monumental trashiness of this mess; it really has to be seen to be believed. Although if Lohan is lucky, no one will bother.
One of the most prominent elements in I Know Who Killed Me is its vivid and repetitive use of two colors: red and blue. While colors can be used artfully in films to accentuate the story’s tone, a character’s traits and emotions, or a setting’s general atmosphere, the way color is used in I Know Who Killed Me is far beyond over the top. Not only is there no subtlety in the application of the colors, but the colors are used so universally that they lose their meaning, and just blend into the background palette of the movie.
For instance, the blue roses that appear in the film should have always stood out due to their uniqueness: however, they blend easily into the background of a movie that is constantly punctuated by blue objects and backdrops. If the backdrops had even been more subtle blues, or colors that would compliment and accentuate the blue of the flowers, the effect might have worked. Unfortunately, the over-saturation of colors in this film serves to drain them of their stylistic meaning, which is ultimately a disservice to the film as a whole. Movies like Hero, The Neon Demon, and La La Land have all managed to balance vivid, saturated color palettes in a way that the colors still carry some meaning, while still being visibly prominent. I think that the director here understood that color can be powerful, and wanted to emulate the visual style of Blue Velvet, but lacked the restraint or understanding of how to use colors effectively in the film. The result is an overstimulating mess of blues and reds.
There is one detail about the plot of the film that still particularly bothers me. Once it is revealed that (spoilers) there are, in fact, two sisters, the concept of “twin stigmata” is presented to explain the injuries to both girls, despite only one of them being abducted. Despite “stigmatic twins” being an unproven, supernatural idea, it is taken at face value as fact by more than one character. There is never any attempt to elaborate on why these twins have this condition, or quite how it works: it is basically just a plot device that isn’t dug into any deeper. They could have mentioned offhand that the mother was experimented on or something, but there isn’t any indication to that effect.
Related to that same twist, the supposed baby-switching done by Aubrey’s father doesn’t make much sense when put under a microscope. How was he able to hide the news of his child’s death from his wife? How did the hospital let him walk away with another woman’s child? How did a woman who had given birth to two children walk out with one, with no question from the doctors and nurses? Did the hospital not report the death of the real Aubrey, allowing the replacement to use her social security number and identity? There are a lot of leaps in logic involved in the story, that can only be explained with mass incompetence or mass bribery, neither of which seem terribly realistic.
The most common criticisms I have heard about I Know Who Killed Me all relate to the gratuitous stripping sequences, which were heavily featured in the film’s trailer. Compared to their relevance to the film’s plot, these two sequences take up way too much of the run-time of the film, which makes it clear what the motivation behind this feature was. On top of the stripping sequences, there is also an unnecessary and unnerving sex sequence, in which Aubrey’s mother creepily listens in while Dakota and Aubrey’s boyfriend have sex in the room above her. Again, this sequence goes on for far too long, and makes it clear that the production team was trying to eek out every ounce of potential erotica they could from this movie, with the limitation of not being able to show Lindsay Lohan nude. Not only is the exploitative nature transparent, but it is also done in such a way that watching it is actively annoying, thanks to one of the most terrible film soundtracks that I can recall.
Something that I genuinely didn’t expect from this movie was the sheer quantity of explicit gore. I anticipated that the violence would mostly be implied and off-screen, not unlike the sexual content in your average PG-13 feature. However, this movie features explicit, brutal violence, including the detailed removal of fingers. The most grisly sequence features a block of dry ice, which is used to destroy limbs with a clamping mechanism. This leaves behind a nasty, frostbitten wound, which is shown in nauseating detail. If there is anything positive to say about the film, it is that the makeup artists nailed that particular effect.
Perhaps the strangest and most unexpected part of the film, however, is the introduction of the quasi-magical prosthetic limbs that replace Lindsay Lohan’s various mangled and amputated body parts. There is an entire leg replacement which is fully automated, and functions exactly like a human leg as long as it is charged overnight. It didn’t even require a significant amount of physical therapy, because the timeline of the film between when the prosthetics are attached and when Dakota functions normally is very short. Likewise, Dakota is gifted with a superpowered robot hand, which is more advanced than most hand replacements found in science fiction films. Not only is is fully articulated, but it is somehow connected to her nerves, and thus functions exactly like a normal hand, but with significantly more strength.
As you might expect, one of the biggest issues with I Know Who Killed Me is its star. Lindsay Lohan may not be the worst actress ever to show up on screen, but she certainly can’t carry a movie on her own. The only way that this film was going to work was with a dynamic, standout lead performance, and even then it would be a long-shot. Lohan simply wasn’t the right choice to prop this flick up. Ultimately, she didn’t even help with the box office, and was a hindrance to the production if anything. I’m curious what the team for the movie thinks now: should they have gone with a talented up and comer, rather than a celebrity? Do they blame the film’s failure entirely on her, despite the movie’s other issues? I think there could be an interesting tale behind this flick, but I’m not sure if the world will ever hear it.
Honestly, I believe that there is the potential for an interesting identity mistaken identity / serial killer movie beneath the mess of I Know Who Killed Me, but it is buried deep beneath the sexualized focus on Lohan, Lohan’s general lack of acting chops, and the overall shoddy directing decisions and screenplay issues that make up the film. I don’t think the movie is quite enough fun to recommend even to bad movie fans, so I would say it is a hard pass from me for anyone who is considering giving this one a watch.