Saturday, September 12, 2009

Not Dead Yet: Lohan's "I Know Who Killed Me"

Lindsay Lohan's last feature film "I Know Who Killed Me" came out in July 2007. I was one of the few to actually pay to see it at the time, in a theater in Times Square (sparsely attended by me and, oddly, several black couples).

Afterwards I was inspired to write pages and pages about both that film and about Lindsay Lohan herself. Was just going through old papers, cleaning out my files, and came across all of these notes (which I've edited down by maybe 50%, deleting most of my silly ponderings about Lohan as a woman and actress).

Here's the IMDb link to the film:

In a 2006 Elle interview, Lindsay Lohan mentions seemingly offhandedly: "Yeah, I have a dark side. I go to my dark side. I watched all those videos on Charles Manson for a while." To which the interviewer responds: "Huh. Older people like me don't understand this kind of meanness that's pervaded the young Hollywood set." Say what?

Lohan's I Know Who Killed Me seemed to me like her attempt to upwrench that idiotic "huh" and equally obtuse follow-up question out of the interviewer's mouth. As in, "I'll show you 'dark,' motherfucker."

Unfortunately, the poor, amateurish writing and editing of "I Know" severely undermines an interesting premise (not nearly adequately explored) of the film: the concept of the Double, the Other, the otherworldly source of the "phantom limb" phenomenon -- the latter a concept LL's character Aubrey/Dakota relates to the existence of ghosts: not with us, but still psychically present nonetheless because they "remember the pain."

Rather than delve into any of those interesting areas, however, what "I Know" turned out to be is a sleazy showcase for gratuitous sex / generic torture-porn. A cheesy "serial killer movie" with a ridiculously bland and underdeveloped killer and police force.

Watching "I Know," I got the definite sense that LL was purposely trying to be "bad." (Wooooo, she's a stripper. Wooooo, she's having sex.) And that, similarly, the filmmakers didn't give a shit about any story line but rather only wanted to show LL (a) as a stripper; and (b) as having sex.

As I write this, I haven't yet looked up the director on the IMDb to learn his history, but I'll be damned surprised if his background's not in videos for 3rd-rate LA hair bands. The guy underestimates his audience. Sure, we want to see Lindsay in a thong. But, more importantly, I do believe we're also interested plot-wise in why exactly she's on the dance-floor and her fuck-me GLOVE is dripping blood. Oh, woooops, turns out she's got a finger missing and, folks, it's because... "Sometimes people get cut." Which could have turned out to be a Zen-like bit of wisdom, but in this case... forget it.

Like the "remembering the pain" ghost idea, the "sometimes people get cut" notion also gets lost in the overall idiocy of the movie as a whole, in its urgent need to show Lindsay stripping and fucking. Not a knock against stripping and fucking -- these can be extremely intimate and moving things, even at their most decadent and defiled levels. Yet, this movie was fake all the way -- the torture, the sex all done on an extremely juvenile MTV level. Nothing hurts to watch.

If you want to "do" serial killers or random killers, then make it real. Make it as fucking scary as "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer" or "Silence of the Lambs" or "In Cold Blood." That cinematic bar was raised long ago. This movie's designated killer doesn't come close to being interesting, nor do the non-entity police officers on the case, nor do Aubrey/Dakota's parents (complete with a wasted Julia Ormond and her hair extensions as Aubrey's mother. Ormond's agent should be ashamed).

"I Know Who Killed Me" is a terrible movie. A list of the overtly bad things:

1) When Aubrey/Dakota is marching up the drive to the parents' house, she perhaps should have been limping, given her fake leg.
2) The lights in the fake leg flashing during the sex scene: Please.
3) The boyfriend proclaiming his undying love during lab class was forced and stupid.
4) How the hell did Dakota's finger get cut off?
5) The piano teacher as Possible Serial Killer was silly.
6) Dakota's having-sex-in-the-house scene was stupid, as was mom Julia Ormond's simultaneous "scrubbing-the-already-clean-sink" scene (as was Ormond's whole appearance).
7) If the dad stole a baby, why did the sonogram only show ONE baby, not twins?

Too bad for the producers that the star wasn't someone like Tara Reid or Paris Hilton or Britney Spears. If one of those famous-but-not-talented girls had appeared, I'm sure the film would have later found a spot on the camp circuit, along with the likes of "Showgirls." As is, the ludicrous movie is combined with Lohan's subtlety as an actress. No one will make any money whatsoever.

I don't think Lindsay Lohan "works" as a 21-year-old. Or as an American. Despite her Long Island/LA roots and her Hollywood child-star history, and despite her youth, the girl looks like she's a WOMAN -- a woman in either a Bergman or a Rosselini film, a "Fallen Woman," a femme fatale. I long to see her well-lit, well-directed, sans dumb "gypsy whore" LA clothes and hair extensions. If she's suffering onscreen, I want to see her suffering mentally, and subtly, because of some love gone wrong, NOT because of some cheesy, overt MTV-like serial killer scenario.

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