Sometimes, when you hear a film is utter crap, you tend to do one of two things: you avoid it altogether or you see it out of morbid curiosity. When the opportunity to review walking drugstore Lindsay Lohan’s universally reviled suspense thriller, I Know Who Killed Me arose, I first declined, but soon changed my mind and decided to take on the task. I wanted to see if it truly was as bad as everyone said it was. A few days and 106 minutes later, I found that much to my surprise, it wasn’t.
It was actually worse.
I Know Who Killed Me is the tale of small town rich girl Aubrey Fleming (Lohan). Aubrey is a solid student, fledgling writer and a promising but unsure piano player who is abducted and tortured by a sadistic serial killer Aubrey. While the FBI, the local cops and Aubrey’s parents (a seriously slumming Neal McDonough and Julia Ormond) look for the abducted young woman, Herr Serial Killer proceeds to torture Aubrey by removing sections of her skin, some fingers, her right forearm as well as one of her legs from the knee down.
But that doesn’t stop Aubrey from escaping her captor. She is found on the side of the road and awakes a few days later on in the hospital. Only now, Aubrey thinks she is a low-class, foul-mouthed slut of a stripper (whoo hoo!), one that always keeps her clothes on while performing (D’oh!), named Dakota Moss. Moss moves back into Aubrey’s parent’s house, proceeds to screw Aubrey’s boyfriend while Mom is downstairs and swear up a blue streak around everyone, all while trying to find out who tortured her and killed “Aubrey.”
Plain and simple, nothing in this film works, and there is plenty of blame to go around, starting with Jeffrey Hammond’s collection of chicken scratch that passes for a screenplay. Hammond’s first ” and pray, last – script is filled with paper-thin characters that sprout dialogue that is the working definition of laughable, an overabundance of red herrings (any male character with more than two lines of dialogue is possibly the killer) and plot holes big enough to drive a couple of 18-wheeler trucks through”at the same time (exactly how does someone with an amputated arm and leg, and despite being strapped down onto a table, manage to escape from a basement?).
Chris Siverston’s pompous direction does nothing to hide Hammond’s screenplay deficiencies. In fact, it makes them all the more apparent. I know that when stuck with a terrible screenplay, chances are unless you’re named Spielberg or Scorsese, there is nothing you can do to make it work. Even so, the former independent filmmaker’s ham-fisted handling of the material attempts to deliver an atmosphere of mystery, suspense and eroticism, but fails miserably. Even worse is Siverston’s overbearing, symbolic use of the colors blue and red, which is so continuous and obvious that I swear I saw another color after the film was over: purple, which was the color of my skull after being beaten with 106 long minutes of Symbolism for Simpletons.
Then there is the film’s young star. As we all know, the TMZ.com poster child has had a rather rough time transitioning from teenager to young adult (yeah, right) and was reportedly whacked out of her mind on illegal substances when she worked on this film. I would venture to think that she was also stoned beyond measure at the time she read the screenplay. If she was indeed coked up during filming, it shows in every scene she is in. Her glassy-eyed line readings are flat; and her strip club dancing scenes are as hysterically funny as her attempts at being a foul-mouthed bad girl. After seeing her comatose dual performance in this film, I would tend to think that all the hype about the young starlet in the past decade or so was the result of marketing by the Disney studios, the paparazzi and a well-endowed chest than it was actual talent.
I Know Who Killed Me is the first film that I have seen of the so-called “torture porn” horror film subgenre, which was hatched following the success of such films as Saw and Hostel, and I really hope that it is the last I encounter. This is a vile piece of crap that offers nothing in the least in terms of entertainment value (anyone who finds elongated, graphic scenes of torture entertaining are someone in possession of serious issues) or competent filmmaking. To call I Know Who Killed Me a piece of garbage is being kind. To call it the worst film of 2007 would be putting it mildly.
The old saying goes that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Believe it or not, I do actually have some kind things to say associated with this film (aside from the fact that its running time was under two hours): the film looks and sounds rather good on Blu-ray. The film was shot by John R. Leonetti using the Panavision Genesis HD cameras, the same ones used for 2006’s Superman Returns and Apocalypto, which proves to be of benefit when it comes to putting the film out on a next-generation DVD format.
The colors, namely the blues and reds, contrast and black levels on the BD of I Know are strong, even if flesh tones tend to become occasionally oversaturated, while compression artifacts and video noise are never an issue. The picture isn’t overly sharp, but details are fine and with the occasional instance of blurriness during fast movement onscreen, you would never know that you were watching a movie shot with high-definition video cameras.
Audio wise, Sony has given the film two audio tracks to choose from: a 5.1 Dolby TrueHD track and an uncompressed PCM track. Both are impressive and are quite active, with sound effects, music and dialogue coming at you from all directions. LFE isn’t nonstop, but it is well-handled when needed, making for an immersive audio experience.
Extras are mercifully scant, totaling a whopping 11 minutes. First off is an Alternate Opening and Ending, neither of which I found to be too different from the footage used in the actual film. We also get an Extended Dance Sequence, which sounds better than it is. Like the alternate opening and ending, this extended sequence has nothing new to add (and yes, Lohan still keeps her clothes here). There are also a handful of Previews included for other Sony titles coming to DVD and Blu-ray, including the very funny teen comedy Superbad.
Sometimes, one’s morbid curiosity with a collectively hated film can yield unexpectedly positive results: Jaws: The Revenge, The Day After Tomorrow and my pick for the worst film of the decade so far, 2000’s Mission to Mars, are all so monumentally awful that I actually began to enjoy them as unintentional comedies. Sadly, that is not the case with I Know Who Killed Me. Depressing, despicable and sleazy from start to finish, this is a complete waste of time that everyone should ignore. If this film stands to have any sort of legacy, aside from being used as a drink coaster or a doorstop, it would be to serve as a teaching tool in film classes on how not to make a motion picture. Sony’s Blu-ray edition of the film boasts solid audio and video presentations, but like the old adage goes, you can’t polish a turd. Don’t let your morbid cinematic curiosity get the best of you. Avoid I Know Who Killed Me at all costs.
– Shawn Fitzgerald