I love Lindsay Lohan. When her issue of Playboy dropped I raced to the corner store to buy it. Who doesn’t love a Disney princess gone porno? In I Know Who Killed Me, released in 2007, Lohan plays a stripper who, through a twist of events, winds up an amputee. When LiLo accepted the role everyone was scandalized, but when she scored her first D.U.I. a few months before the film’s release, it seemed that everyone’s shock about the movie was overshadowed by her lezzie-make-out-drunk-driving-panty-flashing-coke-snorting antics that summer. The film also has quite possibly the worst script ever written. But, I can’t mention this enough, Lindsay Lohan plays an disabled stripper. I don’t know how I waited this long to watch this movie.
I Know Who Killed Me did get a little media attention when it won eight Razzie awards, setting a record as the worst film of all time. I braced myself for failure from the beginning. Michael Gerner of VietNam croons as the camera pans from a dark puddle to a buzzing neon sign with a dancing girl. Dakota Moss (Lohan), steps onto stage in slow motion. Dressed in a full-length red gown with long red satin gloves, she starts dancing. She flips her hair and performs some walk-around-the-pole twirls that are convincing enough. As she unfurls and drops her gown I feel a little proud of her, like she is a baby stripper I just coached through her first shift. I would have told her to lose a few layers though. Under the gown she has on a full corset, a garter belt and thigh highs. All of her stripper outfits leave her body covered up, forming my biggest complaint about this movie: you never even see her tits! Good thing I still have that copy of Playboy.
I appreciated the realistic seediness of the club in the opening scene. There are shots of greasy looking customers and another bored dancer who drags on a cigarette while watching the stage. No one appears to be sitting at the rack. Unfortunately, the plot is less credible than the setting. Dakota closes her eyes and slides back against the pole as a trail of blood drips down from her red-gloved hand. Cheesy.
Starting with Dakota’s first outfit, everything is bright blue or red in this movie. I think the director watched The Sixth Sense, where M. Night Shyamalan used red and blue colors to dramatize danger, and decided to take that concept and just run with it. Bright blue colors are superimposed over black and white scenes to let us know things are scary. Red lighting blows out every close-up shot. It’s incredibly heavy handed. The upside is that everything in the strip club and everything Dakota wears is red, and it looks pretty awesome.
After the opening sequence the film follows Aubrey Fleming (also played by Lohan). Aubrey is a rich high school girl who drives a brand new convertible and lives with her parents in a mini-mansion. A serial killer is on the loose, and one of Aubrey’s classmates has turned up dismembered. There are a lot of poorly acted C.S.I.-type scenes with the local police and F.B.I. trying to figure out who the killer is. Aubrey is kidnapped by the serial killer and subjected to torture, which makes for lots of BDSM style close-ups of her wriggling and moaning while the killer chops off her fingers. It’s pretty standard B-movie slasher fare. The real fun starts when Aubrey is found on the side of the road and brought to the hospital for treatment. That treatment is total amputation of her right arm below the elbow, and right leg below the knee, cleaning up what the serial killer started.
When she wakes up—minus two limbs—she is convinced she is not Aubrey Fleming, but Dakota Moss. Dakota is a stripper with a serious attitude problem and a crack-addicted mother. She describes vivid memories to a psychiatrist and the F.B.I. agents. Why does Aubrey think she is Dakota? Is she making it all up? Is she in shock? How does she know so many details about Dakota’s life? Even Aubrey’s parents start to question who she really is.
Aubrey is timid and slightly annoying, but Dakota is confident and likeable. Dakota throws the f-bomb around a lot, acting like a total bitch to the doctors, F.B.I. agents, and Aubrey’s mom. It’s hilarious to watch. Sadly, the movie’s flashbacks to Dakota’s life pre-amputation are not so believable. She visits her crack-addicted mother and finds her OD’d (fact check: OD’ing on crack is highly unlikely). She gets hired at a divey strip club and rides the bus to and from work, yet she manages to look like a MAC ad, sporting some some pretty expensive outfits, flawless hair and makeup.
On Dakota’s “first night” at the strip club she answers a want-ad for a cocktail waitress but is hired to dance instead. Somehow she pulls a fringe two-piece outfit out of nowhere, with some over-the-knee latex platform boots, and a lot of floor moves. All I could think was, where did she get the money for those expensive-ass shoes? And how does she know how to pop like that when she wasn’t even expecting to dance? Also, she takes a drag off a customer’s cigarette. She hands it back to him and he sniffs it. GROSS.
Stripper stereotypes start flying. The manager who hires her is a jaded, wrinkly old dame with a cigarette constantly falling out of her mouth. Dakota pounds down pills and chases them with an unmarked bottle of liquor while gazing into a cracked dressing room mirror. After she develops a mysterious injury on stage, as shown in the opening sequence, she passes out on the dressing room floor with a bloody towel wrapped around her hand. One of her coworkers and the jaded manager just stand and watch her until she wakes up. The co-worker refuses to leave the dressing room, saying “Marlene out there, she kick my ass if I go out while she on.” Yeah, girl.
Dakota declines their weak offers for help. “Hospitals are for rich people,” she says. The manager sends her off with an extra towel. Really? Oh wait, I forgot it’s totally normal for strippers to be passed out on the floor, or just covered in blood for no reason. They are too poor to go to the hospital so just put ‘em on the bus and hope they come back for the next shift. My eyes would not stop rolling.
Stripper gripes aside, it’s a fun watch the rest of the way through. Dakota runs around with a prosthetic leg in racy outfits and is a general bad-ass. Her amputations are used for shock value initially, but Dakota’s disability is never mocked. She demonstrates a stubborn will to get rehabilitated despite everyone treating her as if she is weak and helpless. When Dakota meets Aubrey’s football player boyfriend she seduces him. They have loud sex as Aubrey’s mom listens from downstairs, too timid to stop them. The laughs in this scene come at the expense of Aubrey’s horrified mother, not the disabled Dakota. When the sex is over Dakota says, “Did she ever fuck you like that? Did she ever fuck you at all?” and you feel like clapping.
Eventually, Dakota gets a hunch about who the serial killer is and declares, “I know who killed me!” I had been waiting for this line the whole movie, but I was thoroughly confused when it happened. Aubrey/Dakota never died, or even came close to dying. She should have said “I know who dismembered me!” or “I know who killed my home girl!” but I guess neither of those lines had the same ring to it. We get a lot more fun gore scenes and a serious twist at the end. I don’t want to give it away because you should really watch it for yourself. I do wish we could have seen Dakota go back to stripping with her prosthetic leg and arm. I bet she would rake in the cash. I’m holding out hope for a sequel.