I Know Who Killed Me – And It’s Not Who You Think!

I Know Who Killed Me - onsheetThere were no press screenings for I Know Who Killed Me, which usually means that the film is so bad that the studio wants to sneak it into theaters and let it quietly die. I suspect that, this time at least, quality didn’t really enter into consideration for withholding the film from the press. It is, as a turns out, a perfectly serviceable little thriller [and eons better than the vast majority of gore porn that seems to be making money these days]. Nope, I expect that the lack of support shown I Know Who Killed Me is due to its star’s recent behavioral patterns – which is too bad, since the film is so much fun…

Aubrey Fleming [Lindsay Lohan] is a high school student who seems to be able to lose herself in her writing. She’s also an award-winning pianist [the Young Artist’s Award], but has lost her desire to play, which disappoints her piano teacher. Following a football game, she fails to meet her friends and just disappears… Two weeks later, she reappears, badly maimed in the manner as an earlier girl, but unlike the earlier girl, she’s still alive. At least, she looks like Aubrey – but she claims to be someone named Dakota Moss.

Dakota is nothing like Aubrey, aside from physical appearance. This girl smokes, swears and seduces Aubrey’s sort of boyfriend. She refuses to believe that someone else was murdered after being maimed in a similar fashion – until she’s given autopsy photos that prove it. She tells a police shrink [Gregory Itzin] that she’s from New Jersey, the daughter of a crack addict, who had to get a job as an exotic dancer to get by.

Is Dakota Aubrey? Screenwriter Jeff Hammond gives us clues to suggest both that she might be a previously unknown identical twin sister and that the result of her trauma has caused Aubrey to retreat into the life of a character she’s been writing about. And are the FBI agents on the case really paying any attention? [Are there details in Dakota’s story that aren’t in Aubrey’s writings?] Director Chris Sivertson creates suspense through the use of pacing, lighting and music. There are some gruesome scenes, but they are in keeping with what’s required to sell the story – not gratuitously, overblown bloodlettings to pander to a jaded audience.

I Know Who Killed Me - Dakota & Stalker

The result is a well-crafted thriller that gets us involved in Aubrey/Dakota’s life. As her parents [Neal McDonough and the always fabulous Julia Ormond] try to deal with this new personality, we can feel their pain, anger and frustration. One lovely little sequence has Mom discovering Dakota smoking. “This is a non-smoking household,” she declares – as she takes a drag off the cigarette, before stubbing it out, “and it will remain one.” In that one moment, we see that she is willing to allow Dakota the time to remember who she really is, on her own terms [a sentiment that is expressed later in words, but this scene says it so much better by not spelling it out].

Things get more than a little weird in the third act, when Dakota tries to finds proof that she’s who she says she is – because if she is, then Aubrey is still being kept by the murderer. The final shot of the film – usually where the survivor of the ordeal looks to the future with hope [it’s usually a sunny and cheerful moment] – is creepy and unnerving. The movie might be over, but we’re left hanging. It’s an unexpectedly un-Hollywood moment that allows the film to maintain its integrity.

The sad thing about I Know Who Killed Me is that it could have been a turning point in Lindsay Lohan’s career. Aubrey/Dakota is quite possibly her best performance. She is completely convincing as both Aubrey and Dakota. She exhibits terrific chemistry with McDonough and Ormond – and also with Brian Geraghty, who plays the boyfriend. Instead, the film has been almost sneaked into theaters, almost as though the studio is ashamed of it. Pity…

Final Grade: B+

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