August 9, 2007

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I Know Who Killed Me (R)
Lindsay Lohan mocks everybody who ever defended her acting abilities with the exploitative, embarrassing bit of non-scary horror I Know Who Killed Me, a movie that offers up community-college-film-class-level symbolism and story-telling in a way that allows for maximum shots of Lohan pole-dancing at a strip club.

Classy! I think that’s exactly how Meryl Streep got all her Oscar nominations.

You know, I’m starting to think that I Know Who Killed Me, Captivity and whatever horrible third-generation copies of these bargain-basement torture porn flicks I’ll be subjected to next are all part of an evil-genius plan by Eli Roth. Here I am, for the second time in three weeks, thinking to myself, “Wow, Eli Roth’s Hostel 2 was actually quite subtle and clever and offered an approach to horror that is not entirely misogynistic.” Brilliant, Mr. Roth! Or perhaps these movies are an equally clever precursor to some membership drive by N.O.W. If so, well played, ladies — nothing gets one thinking about the inherent societal inequities between the sexes like a scene in which cops berate a girl who’s just been hacked to pieces by a serial killer for not remembering details well enough.

Aubrey Fleming (Lohan) loves her football player boyfriend (Brian Geraghty) but she’s still brainy — as the movie so subtly tells us via the glasses she wears when she reads her bad student fiction. Her stories are about a naughty girl named Dakota and they’re, like, deep and important. Also, she’s kinda undecided about whether or not to have sex with aforementioned boyfriend and thusly we are informed that she’s also not slutty, even if she does make a big, disturbing show about watching the gardener strip off his shirt while he leers at her.

After a football game, she leaves her friends to go meet her boyfriend. But instead of rejoining her gal pals at the local cinema, however, Aubrey winds up tied to an operating table where she wakes up just in time to watch some face-obscured, blue-gloves-wearing individual vice-grip dry ice to her hand until it becomes black and brittle enough for him to start chopping off her fingers.

Days later, Momma (Julia Ormond) and Papa (Neal McDonough) are frantic with worry about their little raven-haired peanut and are relieved when a police call comes telling them that she’s still alive. It’s not all good news, though, Mom and Dad. Seems Aubrey’s missing some extremities.

As disturbing as it is to have your daughter returned in pieces, it’s not nearly as shocking as when the girl wakes up and asks who Aubrey is. Is her insistence that she’s a former go-go dancer named Dakota a delusion created in reaction to the trauma she’s just experienced? Or is she really the smoking, hard-living bad girl she claims to be?

And, what does it matter, really, what the outcome of the plot is if you can get Lohan to grind against a pole for a while? The movie shows us the results of what I’m sure were grueling exotic-dancer lessons over and over again. Sometimes in slo-mo. The result is so ridiculously campy I thought for a moment I was watching the opening scenes of Planet Terror. Except somehow Rose McGowan’s role as a go-go dancer who eventually has her leg ripped off and replaced with a gun isn’t nearly as disturbing. (Comparatively, it’s downright empowering.)

It’s as though I Know Who Killed Me is the on-screen manifestation of every trashy mistep Lohan has made in real life over the past few years. The movie masks her natural talent, leaving only the bratty persona she developed for the hateable Georgia Rules. She seems to gleefully submit to every opportunity the movie gives her to wiggle her parts around and act all Paris Hiltony. In a movie with arguably one decent scene, Lohan doesn’t even get the interesting lines (that goes to Julia Ormond — which, poor Julia Ormond).

As shockingly bad as Lohan is, she’s not even the worst thing about the movie. That particular honor can be shared by its “blue = evil” symbolism (ooo, somebody watched American Beauty) and its groan-inducingly stupid “surprise twist.” Surprise, I guess, if you’ve never read an R.L. Stine novel or watched the better part of a C.S.I. episode.

Forget who killed her; Lohan needs to track down and fire whoever convinced her to get involved with this trashy B-movie. D-

Rated R for grisly violence including torture and disturbing gory images, and for sexuality, nudity and language. Directed by Chris Siverston and written by Jeff Hammond, I Know Who Killed Me is an hour and 50 minutes long and is distributed in somewhat wide release by TriStar Pictures.