Other than having a scene where a girl gets sadistically tortured, I KNOW WHO KILLED ME is nothing like the current generation of American horror movies. It seems less influenced by SAW than by Brian DePalma thrillers and “giallos” out of Italy – you know, the weird slasher mysteries where logic is not as important as atmosphere and vivid colors. That’s definitely the philosophy of this one. Logic is for losers.
The director, Chris Sivertson (best known as the co-director of the behind-the-scenes featurette on the remake of THE TOOLBOX MURDERS) has a lush visual style and is unhealthily obsessed with the color blue. You see it on Lindsay Lohan’s clothes and car, her school’s football uniforms, the rose her boyfriend gives her, the big Liberace ring her piano teacher wears, her dad’s glowing phone, the gloves that both the police and the killer wear, the hospital scrubs, the entire emergency room, the weapons the guy uses to torture her, even the gag in her mouth. Seriously, you’ll be pissing blue for a week after you see this. The only things missing are Otter Pops and blue raspberry Jolly Ranchers, otherwise every bright blue colored object or substance that ever existed appears in the movie.
The blue-mania turns out to have a thematic excuse when the DePalma part comes in, where Lohan’s character turns out to have a dark alter ego represented by the color red. They grew up in different neighborhoods, I guess. But the movie is definitely leaning Crip. Wocka wocka wocka. But seriously folks – I don’t think it’s gang affiliated. I think it represents first place and second place. Dark Alter Ego feels like an also ran to Blue Lindsay’s trophy winner.
They set up that nice Lindsay is blue and bad Lindsay is red, so then when a police light flashes on her face you think which one is she, red or blue? That’s not deep or anything but it’s artier than most of these horror guys are trying for these days. The score has lots of eerie singing and classical piano (blue Lindsay plays piano) and the camera has a habit of trailing off into cryptic symbolic imagery. You might think it’s trying to be classy except the DVD includes the “Extended Strip Dance” extra – a long cut of Lohan’s SIN CITY style clothed pole dance, set to cheesy modern porn-style electro beats.
I have to admit, I was not hoping for good, I was looking for funny-bad, this year’s WICKER MAN remake. “Ogie Oglethorp” sent me a negative review he wrote that made it sound like something I would like, and another email bud named Michael T. was blown away by it, I believe he called it “avant retarde.” I asked him if he’d seen WICKER MAN and he said this was crazier. I don’t agree, and I don’t think this is a good movie either, but I’ve been telling everybody I know to watch it. I even think it’s kind of admirable because I’m leaning more toward the “it was on purpose” side of the conundrum. I think they’re aiming for a RAISING CAIN type of insanity. The #1 thing I like, also the #1 thing most people will hold against it, is the balls-out ludicrousness of the plot. Literally, the balls are metaphorically out. The plot is walking around with no pants on and its balls are hanging out and they’re shaved and it says “FUCK ALL Y’ALL” in Sharpie, right there on the balls. This plot holds its head high and doesn’t give a fuck what you think. It’s not here to impress you. Fuck you.
Lindsay Lohan plays Aubrey, a depressed girl who writes stories, used to be great at piano, dates a football player. One day during a town-wide post-football game celebration she disappears, abducted by some Blue Man Group lookin creep. Then a few days later she’s found in a ditch unconscious, one leg and one arm cut off. She recovers quick and gets robotic limbs (yes! now we’re talkin!) but insists she’s not Aubrey, she’s Dakota, part time stripper and daughter of a deceased crackhead. To show how tough she is she smokes, cusses and accuses her psychiatrist of being “fuzz.” Funny that the terror of young Hollywood is completely unconvincing as a bad girl.
To explain how goofy the movie is I sort of have to give away the big plot twist, so here it is. Aubrey writes corny stories to escape reality. You assume that while being tortured she went too far into her fantasy world and convinced herself she was “Dakota.” That’s what her dad (Neil McDonough from
STARSHIP TROOPERS and WALKING TALL REMAKE) would like us to believe when she starts tossing out crazed accusations, like that Aubrey was her twin who dad took from the crackhead down the hall. But it turns out to be true! She really is Dakota, and she and Aubrey were twins and you know how they say twins feel each other’s pain? Well when the killer cut off Aubrey’s limbs Dakota’s came off too. This is explained by that radio host Art Bell on a Ripley’s Believe It Or Not style web video. So it must be true.
The effects on her stumps are pretty good, and the rubber cover on her robo-hand is creepy. They do back down from at least one opportunity for Cronenberg style perversion, though. There’s a scene where, to prove that she’s the bad girl and not the goodie two shoes she’s been mistaken for, Dakota fucks Aubrey’s boyfriend six ways to Sunday. But it’s carefully framed so as to never once show her stumps. Man, think of all the fetishists that came THIS CLOSE to hitting paydirt on that one. You know there’s gotta be some poor pervert out there with a thing for Lindsay Lohan and for stumps. When’s that gonna come up again? Not for a while. My condolences, fella.
But as weird as this movie is I wouldn’t say it was scary. I don’t have that moral objection to torture in horror movies, but I do have an artistic one. When the character never has the chance to escape you’re missing half of the equation. All cat and no mouse. Or all mouse and no cat, I’m not sure. Maybe that was a shocking, nihilistic approach at one point, but now it’s just boring. So I guess this is more of a freakout psycho-thriller than a horror movie.
Even if it had mainstream appeal I think it would get a bad reputation because of who stars in it. If Lohan was getting tortured and bouncing her ass on a stripper pole and America’s image of her was still FREAKY FRIDAY, that would be some good stunt casting. But America’s image of her is not as an actor, but as a crazy drugged out slut yelling into a cell phone, driving an SUV down the sidewalk, on her way to Brett Ratner’s crib after a night of clubbing. She took about a year to go from Walt Disney’s America’s Li’l Sweetheart to the top of the line model of every negative quality a young rich girl could be expected to have. Completely unappealing. Chlamydia in giant sunglasses.
But I still kind of feel sorry for her and some of these other girls because of the way the whole Entertainment-Gossip Industrial Complex squeezes the juice out of ’em and tosses the rind on the ground and steps on it. Who the fuck is Entertainment Weekly or somebody to tell me Britney Spears is a fat washed up talentless white trash whore with poor parenting skills when they’re the exact same pricks who told me who she was in the first place? I didn’t want to know. I said that’s not a singer, that’s a trained monkey, but they wouldn’t listen. They give her the rope to hang herself with, tie the noose for her, surround her with diagrams on how to hang herself, put the noose around her neck, stand her on a chair, hang a carrot in front of her face and then when she bites for the carrot they spend the next ten years complaining that she hung herself.
You almost can’t blame Britney Spears, she’s a little kid, sees Madonna on TV, dances around singing into her brush like any other girl. Her mom is crazy so she trains her to pretend to sing and brings her to auditions until she gets to perform and have all the torment of Michael Jackson’s childhood with none of the spark of artistic genius. She gets on the Mickey Mouse Club, not the real one, that was like 40 years ago. Now some fatass cheeseball packages her with an album, teachers her to shake her hips, puts her in a schoolgirl outfit for the dirty old man hubba hubba counting the days ’til she turns 18 factor even though, honestly, she was never all that attractive. She was even a phoney as jailbait!
But the real crime is the second album, when she’s no longer a novelty record and the media treats her as a genuine artist whose work is worth discussing. But you might as well discuss the meaning of Cheetohs. It’s just a manufactured product. She holds a press conference in front of a giant Pepsi billboard to announce she’s gonna tour the world lip synching, getting moved around on wires and mechanical platforms. If it starts to rain the show is cancelled because she might slip. That’s how fragile the whole enterprise is, it melts in water like the Wicked Witch of the West or those stupid alien invaders in SIGNS.
And yet year after year those fuckin morons put her on their covers, write about her on a first name basis, complain about her instead of just ignoring her, giving her more attention, more money, pretending to hate her and be sick of her. Britney, your 15 minutes is up, would you PLEASE stop being written about by me right now in this very magazine? But then whenever she puts out a new Cheetoh they’re surprised by how delicious it is. That’s how it goes at Shit From Shinola Weekly. It’s catchy and she’s famous so everybody should know about it. They even gave a full page interview to the douchebag who impregnated her, talking about his fake rap career. They didn’t know, it could’ve caught on, it just happened to go the other way. Flip of a coin. They just had to pick a side and they chose wrong that one time.
From what I’ve read the nail in her coffin was on that MTV show where she seemed all high, failing to properly lip synch, practically naked but with a normal person body not designed for that kind of showcase. She’s what, 25 years old and they’re already talking about a “comeback”? To be honest I wasn’t sure either, I thought her performance was shit, but that’s nothing new, people could’ve liked it, I can’t tell anymore. Turns out the verdict was that she blew it. She was not shinola. And then that guy on youtube who looks like a girl started crying.
So she may be a talentless idiot but she’s still a tragic figure. Everybody told her she was great and gave her millions of dollars, how’s she supposed to know better? You’re the assholes who convinced her she was great. Lindsay Lohan is a sadder case because she actually has some talent I think. She was good in that MEAN GIRLS movie anyway. And then she worked with Robert Altman, and Jane Fonda I believe. But she fucks it up with all that twentysomething 24-7 Spring Break debauchery.
Anyway I bring all this up because whether she knew it or not, whether they planned it or not, I KNOW WHO KILLED ME is clearly about her life. Aubrey is the original clean cut Lindsay Lohan, the 21st century Hayley Mills who remade THE PARENT TRAP and FREAKY FRIDAY. But Dakota is “bad girl” Lindsay Lohan, who smokes and disrespects her elders and could very well fuck somebody to death even with 2 out of 4 limbs missing. Dakota is troubled because she has no dad and her mom was a crackhead. Lindsay Lohan is troubled partly because her dad is in the joint and her mom acts like a crackhead. Ten years ago she would’ve been a guest on a “My Mom Dresses Like a Hoochie” episode of RICKI LAKE, these days she might get her own talk show. So Aubrey’s adoptive parents – think of them as America – they want sweet little Aubrey back, and they’re in denial, but they’re stuck with Dakota while Aubrey is buried in the ground somewhere. Dakota resents Aubrey’s cushy life so she acts out, just like Lindsay Lohan does after she suddenly got rich.
In fact the killer in this movie turns out to be Aubrey’s piano teacher, who thinks she’s not living up to her potential. He keeps talking about how she won “The Young Artist’s Award.” But she’s not that great anymore and isn’t as interested in playing, why should she have that pressure?
But you were so cute in those Disney movies. We’re so disappointed in you young lady. Time to cut off your arm.
In the very end of the movie Dakota finds Aubrey’s grave, but she digs it up and Aubrey (inside a blue stained-glass coffin, obviously) is still alive. And she pulls her out and they embrace and just lay on the ground together and that’s the end. So the bad girl Lindsay Lohan who chases down former assistants has rescued the MEAN GIRLS era troubled-bu†–not-over-the-cliff-yet Lindsay Lohan and they have made peace with each other and perhaps will stay together, maybe balance each other out. So it’s an optimistic ending, saying that the Lindsay Lohan with potential is not dead yet. A happy story. Although their parents are getting a divorce so they might have to switch places to try to get them to stay together. Unless that was some other movie, I can’t remember.
That’s the weirdest mystery of the movie to me – it wasn’t written for Linsday Lohan, but the parallels are undeniable. I don’t get how that happens.
One thing that the movie is missing is Nicolas Cage, who should’ve either played the dad or the killer. Without his bizarre overacting this just can’t touch THE WICKER MAN for head scratching intensity. Still, it’s one of the more inexplicable and strangely entertaining movies of the year, and with the amount of people I know who seem to be fascinated with it I’m sure it will have more of a shelf-life than some of the year’s more successful movies. For years SHIT FROM SHINOLA MAGAZINE will use it as a punchline whenever discussing Lohan, but eventually they’ll acknowledge its “cult following” and then criticize her for not making more movies like it. If you’re somebody like her you can’t win. All you can really do is remember to recharge your robotic leg, dig up your twin sister from her grave and apologize for fucking her boyfriend.
VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.