Saturday, January 26, 2008

I Know Who Killed Me

I almost missed this at the Brattle because I would have been the only one to see the Saturday midnight show, and there's no point in running a film just for one guy who wasn't actually going to pay money for it (usher-level members don't pay for each ticket. Sound good? Join The Brattle yourself!). Luckily, I guess, someone else decided he wanted to see it at the last minute.

We each bought some candy and soda, so the theater didn't have to run the movie for just seven dollars and fifty cents of return, but they must have taken a bath on it, despite the write-up in the program saying what a gloriously trashy, ridiculous movie it is. Sadly, I think they were overselling it.

I Know Who Killed Me

* ½ (out of four)
Seen 12 January 2008 at The Brattle Theater ("Recent Raves"/Best of 2007. Seriously)

There's a part of me that would like it if I Know Who Killed Me ended Lindsay Lohan's career. That's not scadenfreude or any dislike of her as an actor talking; I actually like her enough to wish she'd be in better movies. But if a career that started with a better-than-expected remake of The Parent Trap is going to crash and burn, well, this is exactly the movie that should form the other bookend.

In it, Lohan plays Aubrey Fleming, an honor student in a prosperous suburb who vanishes one night, apparently the latest victim of the limb-severing serial killer who is apparently the community's only blight (especially if you have an attractive and intelligent daughter). But wait! She seems to have survived and escaped, somehow, though not before losing an arm and a leg. And, apparently, her marbles - when she wakes up in the hospital, she claims to be someone else entirely, a stripper by the name of Dakota Moss, which understandably upsets her parents (Neal McDonough and Julia Ormand), the psychiatrist assigned to help her recover (Gregory Itzin), and the FBI agents investigating the case (Garcelle Beauvais and Spence Garrett). Not so much her boyfriend (Brian Geraghty), what with Dakota being willing to put out and all.

As with its main character, the film seems to have a split personality. At times it feels like it wants to be a murder mystery, or a psychological thriller. So we spend a lot of time before the abduction watching Aubrey's life for something suspicious, paying attention to the seemingly inconsequential scenes that the film lingers over because it might contain clues that will be important in the end. After she's taken, there's a great deal of earnest procedural work, puzzling over the short stories Aubrey wrote about Dakota earlier, and trying to figure out just how to crack through Dakota's resistance to find the necessary clues. This, quite honestly, isn't much fun. Writer Jeff Hammond and director Chris Sivertson don't really have what it takes to tell a good mystery story; they can't tell the difference between boring filler and legitimate red herrings. They also don't give us much in the way of interesting characters; Dakota may be a figment of Aubrey's imagination, but she's still the richest and most entertaining person on-screen.

They probably could have cut a lot of that first part out, because the film's other personality - the one that's completely insane - is where everything really seems to be going on. This is the part that gives Dakota prosthetic limbs so advanced as to be science fictional. It's lurid in every way it can be, from soap-opera storylines to serving up heaping scoops of limbs being severed on-camera, broken bones, and blood. Sadly, it never manages to make such things exciting; at moments when overacting, obvious music, flying cameras, and cheap shocks would be exactly what the movie needs, everything is restrained and terribly serious. And then there's the final twist, on the opposite end of the speculative-fiction spectrum from "robot hands" - though I have to give Hammond credit on it: While most last-act revelations in bad movies make no sense of any kind, this one actually ties things up in a way that almost makes sense. It's an insane, twisted sort of logic that requires mammoth suspension of disbelief to accept the central premise (Art Bell is appealed to as an authority), but it sort of hangs together.

Still, that sort of basic competence isn't necessarily found where it could do the most good. Sivertson, who has mostly done tiny films with the Austin-based Mo-Freak collective, seems unsure what to do with a big studio's resources, and doesn't seem to get a lot of help from his editor in terms of cutting out what's not necessary. He does spend a lot of effort in making sure that Aubrey favors blues and Dakota favors reds, so he's trying, but he really doesn't seem to be ready for the major leagues.

What's sad is that his main cast is dragged down by that. I'm not sure why Lindsay Lohan chose this script, but she's probably better than it deserves. She's got a fun moment in the middle, looking in Aubrey's mirror as Dakota, where she mockingly pretends to be this perfect beloved girl and rolls her eyes at the absurdity of it that actually makes us like this character who has spent almost all her screen time being unpleasant a little, which is no mean feat. McDonough and Ormand, sadly, don't even have that much chance to make an impression, and it just gets worse after that.

Its own story is a mess, but as part of the Lindsay Lohan narrative? Almost perfect; she's almost back where she started, still able to make use believe in two separate characters, but with all the promise replaced by juvenile attempts to seem adult, griminess, and dysfunction. Sad, really, especially since it seems so unaware of what a mess it is.

Also at eFilmCritic, along with six other reviews

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nothing with Lindsay Lohan in it could be good.