By Karen Benardello
Director: Chris Sivertson
Cast: Lindsay Lohan
Original Release Date: 2007
Scores: Technical: 70; Story: 65; Acting: 65; Overall: 67
A successful young woman simply vanishes without a trace. Is this describing Lindsay Lohan in real life, as her career choices and personal life are killing what was once a promising career, or her character in her new movie, I Know Who Killed Me? The once-powerhouse performer, who Disney constantly used to turn to as a way to turn out hit-after-hit movie, is trying to break free of her good-girl image. In I Know Who Killed Me, which also stars Neal McDonough and Julia Ormond, Lohan portrays an exotic dancer. But at what price?
When I Know Who Killed Me, which was distributed by TriStar Pictures, in association with 360 Pictures, was being advertised and publicized, some people may have questioned the quality of the movie as a whole; filming only lasted two-and-a-half months, under the direction of someone with an unrecognizable name and very little experience in the movie industry. The movie wasnâ€™t even screened for critics before it was released into theaters on July 27. It was easy to assume that Lohan, an A-list star since the age of 11, was in yet another adult movie that featured an underdeveloped script and cast of characters, that was surely doomed to fail at the box office.
Overall, most of the buzz surrounding the movie was focused on the young star. Her once-clean image was able to draw hundreds of families to theaters to see any one of her numerous Disney movies, but now as she enters adulthood, she just seems to be taking any role she can get to make a quick paycheck. At first, I Know Who Killed Me, her second R-rated movie, appeared to fall into the latter category, as her last few movies failed to make any money at the box office. There have also been numerous reports of her acting unprofessional on her sets, partying endlessly with family and friends, and what seems to be a recent unsuccessful stint in rehab.
Surprisingly, I Know Who Killed Me ended up having both strengths and weaknesses in its overall script, as director Chris Sivertson led the movie in a generally decent path. Lohan was able to emotionally connect to her character, Aubrey Fleming, a college student with a bright future. Aubrey lived to write and excelled in her writing class, and had numerous friends, a new boyfriend, and what appeared to be an excellent home life.
One night after leaving a football game, Aubrey was abducted by a serial killer, but was found two weeks later, lying unconscious in the woods. As soon as she woke up in the hospital, she was greeted by her parents, Daniel and Susan, played by McDonough and Ormond. But she immediately began to question who they were, as she claimed that she really wasnâ€™t Aubrey. She told everyone that she was really Dakota Moss, an exotic dancer, who just happened to closely resemble Aubrey. While the FBI searched for Aubreyâ€™s attacker, before he could find her and finish the job, they discovered that Dakota Moss was a character in one of Aubreyâ€™s stories. Her doctors, as well as the FBI officers involved in the case, began to believe that she was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, and was pretending to be Dakota to deal with the attack.
Critics of the movie may feel itâ€™s just a vehicle for Lohan to shed her clean-cut image and prove she can succeed in adult roles, as there are numerous scenes of gore, violence, sex, and performances inside a strip club. But there are several redeeming qualities to the plotline.
Overall, the theme of I Know Who Killed Me is similar to that of the classic suspense/horror movie The Omen. Aubrey, while claiming sheâ€™s Dakota, eventually accuses Daniel of knowing his biological daughter with Susan died during childbirth. Dakota feels that she is Aubreyâ€™s twin, and they were separated at birth. Daniel bought Aubrey without Susanâ€™s knowledge, and passed her off as their child. Dakota claims that she has proof of this: Daniel would send money to her mother every month, and the post-mark said New Salem, the town where the Flemings live.
Another strong point in the plotline is that itâ€™s different from other capture-thrillers. While many similarly-themed movies today focus on the actual kidnapping and torture used on the victim(s), I Know Who Killed Me focuses on the after-math of the attack. Aubrey struggles to fit back into society and her old life, while the FBI tries to find her attacker. Also, most captors in horror movies kidnap and torture strangers just for the thrill of it, but Sivertson was smart enough to make Aubreyâ€™s attacker someone she knew, and who had a vendetta against her, in an effort to make the movie unique.
However, there were some plot holes in the movie, and aspects that should have been expanded on. The main plot hole is the fact that Aubreyâ€™s psychiatrist, as well as some of the FBI officers, felt that she was claiming she was Dakota to deal with her post-traumatic stress. If this was the case, why didnâ€™t she remember any of her life as Aubrey at all? There also werenâ€™t any holes in Dakotaâ€™s life story, as she consistently told the same life stories to everyone she met.
To make the overall movie better, Sivertson should have expanded on Dakotaâ€™s belief that she was Aubreyâ€™s twin, instead of just denying that she was Aubrey. Dakota should have looked further into the idea that she was experiencing non-religious stigmata, as she felt she was getting the same injuries Aubrey was getting when she was being attacked. She didnâ€™t even think of this until towards the end of the movie, and it seemed as though it was just thrown into the plot as a final effort to persuade the audience that she was really Dakota.
While Lohan is trying to successfully make the transition from child to adult star, the choices she makes in both her professional and personal lives may shock her old Disney fans. The people who helped make her previous movies, including The Parent Trap, Freaky Friday, and Mean Girls, hits at the box office may be surprised that she chose to star in I Know Who Killed Me, which is rated R for grisly violence, including torture and disturbing gory images, and for sexuality, nudity, and language. Only time will tell if Lohan was indeed stating that she knows what happens to her character in her latest movie, or that her career choices and personal life are killing what was once a promising career.