Cinema Autopsy: I Know Who Killed Meon December 19, 2012 at 2:08 AM
By Kyle Martinak
This is a series of short articles where a member of the Chain Gang watches a horrendous piece of shit movie and dissects it to ponder exactly what went wrong. The goal is not to just hate on an easy target. The goal is to speculate the big questions: What was being attempted? Who is to blame? What can be said in defense of the movie? Essentially, we are giving these messy garbage-heap films their peace, the same way a forensics expert gives peace to the victims they examine.
You guys, I’m scared shitless to report that I tried sitting through I Know Who Killed Me. The title alone is so devoid of logic and desperate to intrigue an audience. This film was destined to be a straight-to-video release, but somehow it was not. Pull on your rubber gloves and let’s find out why.
A BRIEF SYNOPSIS:
We are assaulted with terrible music and lots of red lighting as we see a drugged out zombie version of Lindsay Lohan attempt to play a stripper. She remains fully clothed the entire time, so this is more of an old-school burlesque thing, but less classy. Not classy. Scummy, really. Due to bad editing, I initially missed a very important clue to the mystery that we have not yet been given…Stripper Lindsay is bleeding on the pole. Wow. I just typed that sentence.
We are then introduced to an overachieving good girl, also played by Lindsay Lohan. She is a piano prodigy and a supposedly gifted writer, although all the writing of hers that we hear is awful. We the audience are explicitly told to question if Stripper Lindsay and good girl Lindsay are the same person or not. It is very clear they are not. But Good Girl Lindsay is very sexually charged. Again, supposedly.
After twenty minutes of blue imagery (Good Girl Lindsay is surrounded by blue, while Stripper Lindsay was bathed in red) and no less than five characters being introduced as suspects for a crime we have not yet seen, Good Girl Lindsay disappears without a trace. Shortly thereafter, Lindsay Lohan is found in a ditch with one arm and one leg missing.
Here comes the mystery. The Lindsay that is found is Stripper Lindsay. She goes by a different name, she cusses like a sailor, and she will hump anything that moves. From here, the movie takes a spiral into crazy-town. While Good Girl Lindsay’s gardener, boyfriend, mother, father, and piano teacher are all further set up as the kidnap/dismemberment culprit, Stripper Lindsay receives a bionic arm and leg (!) and discovers that her and Good Girl Lindsay are actually twins. One of them is being tortured and dismembered, the other is experiencing spontaneous limbs-falling-off disorder, brought on by a serious case of Bullshit-Twin-Connection-Like-A-Voodoo-Doll Disease.
Using her newfound superpowers to feel what her sister is feeling, Stripper Lindsay and Suspicious Dad storm the gates of Suspicious Piano Teacher’s house and confront the sicko, saving Good Girl Lindsay from being buried alive. The movie abruptly ends seconds after the girls meet, giving no resolution or consequences for the events of the movie.
The aforementioned Blue/Red symbolism is the most obvious of filmmaking faux pas in this movie. It’s the stupid part of this movie that everyone remembers, even if they haven’t seen it. It’s a device that most first-year film students would call a cute attempt at style, but I think it was a genuine attempt to say something visually about duality and dark/light sides of the human psyche. Too bad it was done poorly, but really too bad that the statement was rendered total bullshit when the two Lohans turn out to be two people.
The five different red herrings are all given blue objects or accents to dwell on, too. Which…doesn’t mean anything I can decipher. I thought blue was good, not sinister. Oh, and the boyfriend was given a yellow motif that is carried on to the robotics guy who gives Lohan her bionic limbs. This means absolutely nothing. If these guys had been the killer, it would have been obvious as hell but it also would have been coherent. Essentially, the director was trying to pull off something mind-bending in order to coincide with the David Lynch adoration going on with the script. But Lynch is not weird for weird’s sake, and the meaning behind his devices are never obvious…especially this obvious. This comes off more like everything going on in Eyes Wide Shut and Vanilla Sky.
The scriptwriter, incidentally, has no idea what he’s doing either. This movie shifts from a Blue Velvet clone exploring the idyllic affluent teen and the dark potential for the seedy underbelly that lives within her…to a crappy serial killer movie. Then it jumps to a dark-yet-comedic multiple personality story (complete with a fully comedic scene of her mother washing dishes while listening to the new personality sport-fucking upstairs). Then it becomes an unintentional horror-comedy the likes of Birdemic, where characters’ decisions are illogical, the plot is beyond preposterous, and the audience just doesn’t give a shit about what’s going on.
It took me nearly four hundred words to summarize this movie above. That was my immediate observation. The destructively blatant color symbolism, the clunky exposition, too many red herrings (all of which are given too much planted motive), and the bat-shit insanity of the twin-connection angle make up ninety-seven percent of this movie. The rest is Lohan failing miserably to elevate her career to adult status with sex scenes, strip scenes, and dropping f-bombs. Why did it take me so long to relay that? Probably because it was handed to me in such a convoluted manner.
Further investigation tells me that the “unexplained stigmata twin-connection” thing is the narrative seed that this shit tree grew from. So, the convoluted manner in which this film is presented might be because the twist at the beginning of the third act was written first, and the rest of the plot was reverse-engineered from there. This heavily explains that the title is I Know Who Killed Me, even though 1.) neither girl was ever killed or presumed dead, 2.) Stripper Lindsay did not know Suspicious Piano Teacher in the first place, and 3.) even if he had killed one of them, it would have been the Good Girl Lindsay who is not present for most of the movie (including when Stripper Lohan utters the title itself, after firmly establishing that they are not the same person). So, the title does not make sense on any level and every word of it is false.
But all of this leads me to believe that this would have made a great straight-to-video laugh. It wouldn’t be so worthy of scorn if it weren’t elevated to theatrical release, a C-level cast instead of D, and an A-list lead actress. What happened there? This project could have paid the bills for Julie Ormond and Neil McDonough for a few months, given the technical crew another credit for their resume, and made a few extra dollars for the distribution company. But no. Instead, it’s an embarrassment to all involved and a huge financial liability.
I understand how a script like this got the green-light. I understand how a director like this was hired. I even understand how they got Lindsay Lohan as the lead. But how and why did anyone think this was destined for a theatrical run, a bigger marketing campaign, and lots of media coverage?
“David Lynch for Dummies” Director- While trying to be artistic and different, the direction of this feature ended up looking like a parody of good direction in this genre. Chris Siverston references Demme’s work on Silence of the Lambs, David Lynch, and even a little De Palma. It seems like a teenager got a hold of a cinema text book and proceeded to misinterpret what was interesting about all of those examples. There were good intentions behind this blunder, though.
Tone-shifting, Reverse-Engineered Screenplay- The movie reads like the writer had no idea how to connect the “twin connection” story nugget with the (allegedly) sexualized violence and the admittedly promising Good Girl/Bad Girl duality thing. While there’s a story here somewhere, it lies lonely and forgotten behind the rushed exposition and pushing of silly plot devices onto the ending. Some quite literally (COUGH!bionic-limbsCOUGH!).
Direct-To-Video Debacle- There’s no reason in hell for this movie to be a household name. The Razzies would not even pay attention to this if it wasn’t as championed as it was by someone too high up on the Hollywood food chain. If this had been direct-to-video, it may have made a tiny bundle of cash and become a cult favorite. Instead, it’s the grease-spot on the roadmap of Lohan’s career, and the early failure for the director and writer.
Cause of Death: Direct-To-Video Debacle
This film stood very little chance, with or without bad writing and directing. It was a movie without a genre, without a tone, without characters, without originality. It didn’t even have a bizarre hook (unless you count bleeding strippers and robot legs) that would turn it into a fascinating watch.
Essentially, the failure of this film should be pinned on whoever elevated it to theatrical status. Hey, this is a colossal bomb that everyone heard too much about while it was being made. Then when it released, we all heard too much about how terrible it is. Would we even know it existed if it was direct-to-video? Not at all. It would just be a pleasant surprise for us cinematic masochists who scrape the bargain DVD bins looking for a good time.
So, ultimately whatever studio exec who decided this bag-o-crazy needed to be widely distributed is the doom-bringer. But there must have been some fiscal reason for him to do so. What would compel aHollywoodexec to champion this movie and not distance himself completely from it?
That we can blame on Lohan herself. This movie released right at the crossroads of Lohan’s career. She had just been outed as a drug user and a huge ho-bag, ruining her image as a squeaky-clean family comedy staple. So I Know Who Killed Me is her professional rebuttal to the claims that she was going nowhere fast. That worked out, huh?
Because of this strategy of showing the public that she was grown up, Lindsay Lohan’s appearance in I Know Who Killed Me got the movie made at all. Strike one. I get the feeling that if Good Girl and Stripper were casted with someone like Kat Denning or Amanda Seyfried (at the time, anyway), the project would not have made it to principal photography.
So once a studio, or Lohan’s agent, or Lohan’s publicist, or whoever it may have been exhausted lots of time and money to keep her new adult project from dying, I’m sure “direct-to-video” and “bargain bin” became dirty words. Again, this would not be an issue if the lead actress was not super-effing-famous and looking to make a statement with her next role.
People are quick to blame the inexperience of the director or writer, and certainly they contributed bad jobs to a sea of bad jobs being done. But this movie’s chance as a successful endeavor did not hinge on anyone other than Lohan herself. Because her popularity is the only thing that put the project on the map. For instance, wait a year after you read this. Forget completely about the movie. Then if I were to ask you, “Who else worked on I Know Who Killed Me?” I bet I get a correct answer (or any answer at all) from less than ten percent of you. Strike two.
And hey, I’m usually the first person to blame the studio. The money. The suits. They ruin good projects and they push crappy ones on the unsuspecting populace. But this project had all the earmarks for a success for them. It had Lohan, so it would make money (Did you know that Herbie: Fully Loaded made $66 million?). Plus it would be a big comeback/reinvention film for her. And it was sold to them as an erotic thriller, and it was aimed at a younger audience than the genre usually is. This was going to be The Crying Game meets Pulp Fiction with the audience of Twilight. How could you say no from a monetary standpoint?
Well, you easily could say no if the sales pitch ended with, “And it’s gonna star Ali Lohan!” But it didn’t. Strike three.
The prime suspect is certainly Lindsay Lohan, who not only acts poorly in the flick but is responsible for green-lighting a student film about how sexy amputation is and how dangerous the color blue looks (hint: not very).