I Know Who Killed Me was released ten years ago today, seemingly as an attempt to rebrand Lindsay Lohan from a Disney starlet into a credible adult actress… as in an actress who is an adult, though given the material she’s working with, I can see how one might be confused. But, surprise surprise, I Know Who Killed Me is god awful on almost every conceivable level. And that actually makes it pretty damn entertaining.
The film opens on a scene of Lohan on a stripper pole, but then jarringly cuts to Lohan sharing a short story in a high school classroom. This is Aubrey, a high school senior who wishes to pursue a talent in creative writing and consequently quits her piano lessons because of it. If that sounds like a clumsily integrated detail, don’t worry, because it is. But more on that later. Soon Aubrey goes missing, only to be rediscovered later so mutilated that a leg and an arm need to amputated. However, the person they discover knows nothing of Aubrey, claiming to instead be Dakota, a stripper daughter of a junkie who doesn’t know how she suffered her injuries.
This plot is riddled with inconsistencies, leaps in logic, and insane developments that are treated with absurd degrees of normalcy. The eventual resolution of the mystery is that Aubrey was indeed abducted by none other than her barely-established piano teacher and mutilated as punishment for abandoning her musical talent. Dakota, meanwhile, is actually Aubrey’s secret twin, a detail that is never fully logistically explained and feels oddly reminiscent of Lohan’s previous stint in The Parent Trap, again recalling her childhood in a film that wants us to take her seriously as a sexualized adult. Oh, and by the way, Dakota suffered the same mutilation as Aubrey because the two share a psychic link wherein each of them suffers the injuries inflicted upon the other. How this stigmatic connection conveniently hasn’t manifested prior to Aubrey’s abduction is beyond me, and it’s also clearly beyond the movie. If the film treated these moments with any kind of internal logic or even goofy self-awareness, there would at least be some redeeming value in that, but the film has the overconfident gall to be straight-faced and matter-of-fact about every incredulous thing it introduces, including the blasé nature with which it treats amputation.
An early scene of Dakota waking up in the hospital finds her visited by Aubrey’s family, who plead with her to remember who she is so that “we can put all this behind us.” Meanwhile, Dakota is missing part of an arm and a leg! However, you wouldn’t know it because of how little pain she seems to be in and how she treats the whole ordeal as a mere inconvenience. But as it turns out, this isn’t really a big deal because, apparently, 2007 saw a huge leap in prosthetic technology that has only recently made its way into the real world. For you see, Dakota is given A LITERAL ROBOT HAND AND LEG, the latter of which we get to see charging in a wall dock. These limbs are fully functional replacements, so with how much limb loss happens in this movie, I guess it isn’t so much a painful trauma that requires years of physical readjustment as it is a minor inconvenience that can be solved with the best insurance plan that Inspector Gadget can buy.
But as asinine and casually fetishistic as the writing is—and believe me, I could go on about the crazy plot points and dialogue exchanges that are probably better left experienced firsthand—what will stick most in most people’s minds is the bonkers directorial choice to communicate nearly every bit of symbolism in a deep shade of blue. Dakota is often dressed a deep crimson red that is peppered throughout scenes to allude to her hidden presence and identity, but literally everything else is so tinged in color-corrected blue that if there were any symbolic meaning to it, it’s lost in the over-saturation. There’s blue in almost every single shot: the ring on the piano teacher’s hand, the school colors, a bouquet of blue roses, shirts, wallpaper, stage lights, it’s everywhere. The only thing this film needs is Eiffel 65 playing over the soundtrack to bring the entire experience together.
So why remind you of this disaster ten years after its release? Because I Know Who Killed Me is a legitimate riot of terrible filmmaking, and it’s the perfect material for getting a couple of friends together and riffing on it mercilessly. This is a film with clearly high aspirations in creating more than your average teenage mystery thriller, but its conceits are so far off the deep end and executed so poorly that it dives headfirst into unintentional comedy. If you check out the alternate ending, you’ll discover that the story was actually just the imagined musings of Aubrey’s creative writing, which is just as stupid but oddly appropriate. I Know Who Killed Me plays with all the absurd twists and concepts that a high-schooler would think are novel and cool, but doesn’t appear to have the experience or necessary grasp of storytelling basics to tell an effective story with those pieces. Yet while it may be cruel to laugh at a teenager’s first attempts at creativity, this was a feature film with a budget of $12 million. Enough people thought this was a good idea that it was written, produced, directed, edited, and released. And that’s a joke worth laughing at.