I Know Who Killed Me … A Terrible Story and Lackluster Direction

Though it’s hard to recall, Lindsay Lohan was once a big star. Following her commercially successful movies as a young Disney star, Mean Girls marked Lohan’s transition into more adult roles. But the wheels came of the train quickly afterwards. Personal and legal struggles ultimately derailed Lohan’s career. And I Know Who Killed Me was arguably the nadir of her movie career. To say the 2007 thriller was critically maligned would be an understatement. At the 28th Golden Raspberry Awards, I Know Who Killed Me cleaned up, winning eight awards. In spite of its critical and box office woes, a small cult following has sprung up around the movie. So is I Know Who Killed Me ‘so bad, it’s good’? Or is it just a bad movie?

Synopsis

In the small suburb of New Salem, a serial killer is torturing and killing young women. When high school student Aubrey Fleming goes missing next, the FBI arrives with a special task force. But when weeks pass with no clues, Aubrey’s friends and parents begin to lose hope. And then a driver finds Aubrey – with one leg and one hand amputated – unconscious by the roadside. When she wakes up in the hospital, Aubrey claims she’s an exotic dancer named Dakota. Now the FBI and her family race to help Aubrey recover her memories before the killer finds her again.

I Know Who Killed Me Misunderstood the Assignment

Where to start with I Know Who Killed Me? If writer Jeff Hammond’s intent was to craft a twisty Giallo-inspired thriller, he succeeds in at least one regard. Like most Italian 70s and 80s Italian Giallo, I Know Who Killed Me burdens itself with a convoluted, improbable story. As the story progresses from its serial killer set-up, things twist in increasingly ridiculous directions. Improbable plot twists can work if executed properly. But director Chris Siverston insists on playing it very straight and serious. As a result, the thriller induces unintentional laughs and groans rather than shrieks. James Wan’s Malignant had a crazy twist, but that movie also embraced its riotous storytelling.

Improbable plot twists can work if executed properly. But director Chris Siverston insists on playing it very straight and serious.

Similarly, Siverston tries, but struggles, to replicate the Giallo’s visually distinct approach to filmmaking. About as close as Siverston gets is the heavy-handed use of garish lighting. You may notice the repeated use of blue lighting and objects throughout the movie. Apparently, the juxtaposition of blue and red was intended to distinguish between Aubrey and Dakota’s contrasting personalities. Aside from the color palette, I Know Who Kills Me gets almost nothing else right about the Giallo. While there’s violence in the thriller, it’s never masterfully staged. There’s no sweeping cinematography. Worst of all, I Know Who Killed Me is poorly paced. Ultimately, it’s a boring movie that feels like a slog to sit through to the end.

No, Lindsay Lohan Isn’t The Worst Thing in I Know Who Killed Me

Despite the lack of style and execution in its violence, I Know Who Killed Me does get one more thing right about the Giallo. Its violence often feels misogynistic in nature particularly in that it serves little purpose to the movie’s overall story. Interestingly, I Know Who Killed Me was one of two movies released in July of 2007 that attracted criticism for its portrayal of violence against women. Two weeks prior to its release, Captivity sparked outrage over billboards showing start Elisha Cuthbert (Captivity) confined with the tags  “Abduction”, “Confinement”, “Torture” and “Termination”. Though it’s never as ugly as the ‘Torture Porn-inspired’ Captivity, I Know Who Killed Me still feels grimy.

Nevertheless, Lindsay Lohan herself isn’t the problem.

Consistent with the rest of the thriller, its performances are a bit all over the map. Nevertheless, Lindsay Lohan herself isn’t the problem. Yes, Lohan walked off with two Razzies that year. And no one’s going to mistake her performance – either one – for an Oscar-worthy one. But she acquits herself better than co-stars Julia Ormond and Neal McDonough. While McDonough looks like he’d rather be anywhere else, Ormond chews the scenery whenever she’s on screen. And the movie’s twist reveal of the killer underwhelms for a few reasons. In addition to a lack of a serious presence of the character, the actor in the role comes off flat, lacking any sense.

I Know Who Killed Me Too Dull For Its Cult Status

Of all the things wrong with I Know Who Killed Me, Lindsay Lohan’s performance isn’t really of them. Despite a double Razzies win for Worst Actress and Worst Screen Couple, Lohan is fine in her dual roles. Everything else here is an absolute trainwreck. If one considers that Siverston and Hammond perhaps intended to make a homage to Italian giallo thrillers, then it’s a little easier to understand the cult following that’s popped up around the movie. I Know Who Killed Me certainly checks off enough of the Giallo boxes. But it’s hard to imagine Dario Argento or Mario Bava making a movie this boring.

THE FINAL VERDICT: JUST A BAD MOVIE

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I am a Criminology professor in Canada but I've always had a passion for horror films. Over the years I've slowly begun incorporating my interest in the horror genre into my research. After years of saying I wanted to write more about horror I have finally decided to create my own blog where I can share some of my passion and insights into the films I love.

3 thoughts on “I Know Who Killed Me … A Terrible Story and Lackluster Direction

  1. Why did you find Malignant to have “embraced its riotous storytelling” and not IKWKM? I don’t think the movie takes iself as seriously as its nay-sayers seem to believe, yes the editing is slow paced which might put some thrill-seeking people off but it’s extremely obvious to me when they’re playing up the campy elements of the story.

    1. Thanks for the comment. I found it campy; I just personally see it as intentional. But the movie certainly has its following.

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