I was going to begin this review with a haughty diatribe about the whirlwind of media frenzy which is Lindsay Lohan, and her continual issues with drugs/alcohol/DUI’s/rehab/on-set bitchiness, but frankly, that’s a sorry cop-out. It’s unnecessary filler. And it’s irrelevant to the movie itself.
So, I’ll instead begin by saying that I Know Who Killed Me is a more-than-pleasant surprise, well-filmed, well-acted, especially by (gasp) Lohan herself, and a surprisingly intriguing and gruesome little thriller. The film is directed by Chris Sivertson, hot on the tail of his first feature, The Lost (adapted from a Jack Ketchum novel of the same name), and is a definite sign of great directorial things to come.
Lohan stars as Aubrey Fleming, a high school kid who excels at writing and piano. On the night of the big football game, Aubrey goes missing and is presumed to have been abducted. Seems there are a number of young females in the area turning up as corpses with mutilated arms and legs. The killer’s M.O. is compromised, however, when a passer-by finds Aubrey hacked to pieces in a ditch, but very much alive. When she awakes, short a few limbs, she remembers nothing of the incident, and most terrifying of all, has sunk into a strange amnesia with no recollection of anyone with the name Aubrey. She claims she is someone else with an entirely different past. Could it be post-traumatic disorder, or something far most sinister at work?
I Know Who Killed Me will unfortunately live or die with the Lohan stigma – some will avoid it, some will flock to it (13 year old girls, anyone?). I call this the ‘Tom Cruise Syndrome.’ But truth be told, she clocks in a fine, and often times complex, performance. She is, without a doubt in my mind, a great actress. And here she is immersed in some racy and gruesome material that I applaud her for taking on.
There is a complexity to the movie, in the actual film-making itself, which I found I was thinking about long after I left the theatre. The killer’s motives are hinted at throughout, for instance, in various subtle shots and scenes. This is especially true with the mutilation of the victims. Quite ingenious, frankly. The use of two primary colors – blue and red – aren’t merely stylistic choices, but hint at deeper significance. Also, in a welcome turn of events, the ‘twist’ isn’t a revelatory ending, but rather unveiled about ¾ of the way in, which leaves Sivertson with a truly nail-biting conclusion that doesn’t rely on hare-brained leaps of faith. I was riveted until the very end. And, perhaps most importantly (and as mentioned earlier), the more I got thinking about it afterward, the more things clicked into place. A movie that stays with you after the screening is an effective one indeed.
If I have some gripes, they are minor. Some of the acting in the initial sequences is wooden, including a couple of plot exposition scenes with Lohan that stand out like a sore thumb. Also, the first act of the film seems…rushed, for lack of a better term. Each scene is a short spurt of information, like the film wants to sit down and tell us more, but doesn’t have the time. So, instead, it rushes things a little too much. And finally, in the second act, things get pretty slow-paced, putting the tension on the back-burner in order to deepen the story.
A couple wonderful stand-outs, though: Sivertson often leaves things in our, the viewers, hands. Lengthy explanations are not needed; he lets us fill in the blanks. I can’t tell you how refreshing that is from the horror genre (especially the serial killer sub-genre). As well, there are a number of ingenious scares and he does not let up on the gore or disturbing images when they are needed. Woah, I mean, some scenes are truly stomach-churning.
This is a very good film from a promising director. Some may find the crux of the story hard to digest, but I truly do not find it affected my enjoyment of the film. It’s scary when it wants to be, gruesome when the time comes, and the work of a director who not only knows the genre, but respects his audience.
High recommendations, despite what I felt walking into the theatre.
Oh, and as a final note – this movie has a little of everything for those with any opinion on Lindsay Lohan. For those who hate her, you’ll no doubt revel in the icky torture scenes. For everyone else (myself definitely included), there are some surprisingly sexy and steamy strip scenes. Which never hurt my opinion on a horror film before, that’s for certain. Heh.