Perhaps titled so as to create a false link to I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997), Kevin Williamson's other slasher film satire (after Scream ) which Columbia pathetically tried to spin off into an ineptly executed franchise, I Know Who Killed Me is a cinematic train wreck and a perfect storm that shows what happens when a bad script is greenlit after a major star is attached, with the studio foolishly hoping genre fans, and in this case Lindsay Lohan droolers, will flock to cinemas to see a film that hybridizes elements of the now-passé torture porn genre, nasty nineties serial killer mysteries, and over-sexed eroto-thrillers.
One can argue Jeff Hammond's first produced feature film script began with a good mystery hook: is the girl found missing a hand and leg suffering from a delusional state in which she's absorbed the persona of her creative writing project as a coping mechanism to subvert the trauma of being victimized by a serial killer? Or is she a doppelganger that's been drop-kicked into a world gone completely mad?
Hammond draws from the standard serial killer template by adding a wafer-thin FBI investigation to augment his hybrid that also tries to be a post-modern giallo, yet includes flashes of sadism to evoke the recent spate of voguish torture porn entries, but without really reveling in the grunge and obsessive fascination with the victim's ongoing suffering.
The film's flashes of nastiness stay onscreen just long enough to look stylish, but they never evolve into the film's dominant focal point, something the studio may have insisted upon to ensure Lohanians wouldn't be repulsed by seeing their former beloved teen star in moments of flesh-peeling trauma (which does happen, and is largely centralized on her right hand and digits in a particularly indulgent sequence).
In the first half of the film, screenwriter Hammond and workmanlike director Chris Sivertson frequently flash back to the trauma of the current victim and survivor, and emphasize her confusion and aggravation whenever her supposed parents and boyfriend insist she's not a stripper named Dakota, but a good girl named Aubrey who just needs to latch on to a key feeling or image, so everything will be as good as new.
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Ultimately the filmmakers concentrate on a twist they bizarrely felt would actually be a crowning star to their genre hybrid: Dakota is in fact the other half of twins born to a crack-head mom, and although separated at birth, through a magical physical manifestation of extreme empathy, she bleeds and loses appendages while the serial killer torments kidnapped sister Aubrey.
There's no point in addressing this Swiss cheese of theorems (does Twin A lose a tooth when Twin B gets one yanked? If Twin B breaks her toe, does Twin A shout ouch! 100 miles away?) nor pondering whether Sivertson and Hammond were also incorporating a new spin on Hershell Gordon Lewis' The Wizard of Gore (1970), where audience members participating in a gory magic show start to revert to the trauma they initially survived; the shared trauma is a dumb conceit that's used to transform Twin B into A's savior, ultimately defeating the killer (the nondescript music teacher who appears in one scene, early in the film) and saving A before she's buried alive in a glass coffin with blue-stained panels through the sudden introduction of telepahthy.
Blue, incidentally, is the film's dominant colour motif, but unlike prior serial killer films, there's no effort to explain why it's so omnipresent, nor why the music teacher-by-day uses bluish glass-blown devices to torture his victims. The lack of any mythology and backstory distances the film from a more formal serial killer entry (even Jill the Ripper, a Dolph Lundgren derivation made in 2000 had one, for Pete's sake), but it does opens up screen time to indulge in the film's one selling point: showing a former teen star seen stripping, stretching, and grinding her arse in a peeler show.
That was the selling point of Showgirls (1995) – watching former teen Saved by the Bell co-star Elizabeth Berkley getting very nekkid and raunchy – and will likely give this film a leg-and-a-half on video, but the sequence – which is actually pretty short, and amateurishly stretched in long chunks of slow-mo – will also make one wonder what the hell made Lohan decide to appear in this deluxe film school project?
Sivertson tosses in a clumsy flashback or cuts to a perfunctory police investigation in a bingo hall whenever the plotting reaches a dead end, and apparently no one cared to fix Hammond's banal dialogue that actually sinks (or is it stinks?) below some of the knock-off serial killer TV movies that followed Jonathan Demme's intricate Silence of the Lambs (1991); even Gary Sherman's Murderous Vision (1991) and James Glickenhaus' Slaughter of the Innocents (1994) have more to offer.
Twin B's persona – stripper Dakota – also lets the filmmakers throw in some bedroom T&A, thereby evoking some of the raunch that other filmmakers of Basic Instinct (1992) knock-offs hoped would save their own duds, such as Body of Evidence (1993), Jade (1995), and The Color of Night (1994); the creators of these lazily written idiocies committed the same sins as Hammond and Sivertson: they cast a hot chick in a risqué role, and relied on an aura of sleaze to obfuscate the script's wet tissue structure.
Most of the supporting actors feel like stick figures trapped in sterile scenes, including Paula Marshall, who plays a distraught mother in two super-short scenes. The most embarrassed actress, however, is Julia Ormond, wasted as Twin A's uptight mom. (Seeing Ormond anthropomorphize a teddy bear to cheer up Twin B in an early hospital scene is horrific in its imbecility.)
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Columbia's dual layer disc offers other film trailers and a full screen version to supplement the lack of any meaty extras, although it's hard to believe anyone would've cared to listen to a director or writer's commentary track, had any been recorded. The DVD's lone extras are an alternate opening (more neon light shimmering on water footage), an alternate and completely incomprehensible ending presented without any context, a longer edit of the slo-mo striptease, and a blah blooper reel.
The transfer of the film, shot in high-def, is very clean, with bright, saturated primary colours glowing from the screen. Joel McNeely's fine Grand Guignol score – barely audible in the final mix – can at least be enjoyed on the available CD, which offers the kind of chills the filmmakers missed by several hundred kilometers.
© 2007 Mark R. Hasan