With a serial killer on the loose, a promising young female student (Lindsay
Lohan) is kidnapped after a high school football game. The police find her in a
remote field some two weeks later, alive but missing some limbs.
Or do they?
The girl they find looks exactly like the missing girl, but insists
she is not. She claims she is a crackhead and stripper named Dakota. More and
more evidence piles up showing that she really is the girl kidnapped by the
killer: (1) her injuries are identical in every way to the pattern
established earlier by the killer, down to details never released to the public;
(2) the two girls have have the same DNA; (3) her
mother still has her ultrasound exam, showing only one baby in the womb, so a
twin is ruled out; (4) even if there were a missing twin, both girls could not
have identical injuries; (5) the missing girl's password on her Mac, previously
known only to her, is "dakota," obviously indicating that the missing girl's
subconscious fabricated the second personality. Despite all that evidence, Dakota
insists that she is a different person, and that her injuries just sort of
happened to her out of mid-air, having been done by nobody.
It sounds at least mildly intriguing, but it isn't. It's a "reverse Hitchcock"
thriller. By that I mean that Hitchcock's films often seemed to have some
irrational or supernatural elements which turned out to have perfectly logical
explanations. If you keep your head in the game, assume that the laws of the
natural universe have to apply, and try to think through Vertigo, for example,
you have a reasonable chance to solve the mystery before the protagonist. In the
reverse Hitchcock plot, on the other hand, the mystery at first seems to be
explicable by a combination of natural science and psychology, but later turns
out to be some preposterous supernatural mumbo-jumbo. In this case,
Dakota must be the missing girl, but with a traumatic post-stress disorder of
some kind. But she isn't. The writer's decision to confound the audience by piling on the surprises eventually
paints the plot into a corner, whereupon the script has no choice but to resort to a bullshit
supernatural explanation which could not possibly be true, and therefore could
not be guessed by anyone playing along at home unless they are prepped with the
same information I am now giving you, which is that when all the possible
explanations have been exhausted, the solution must be something impossible. If
you want to guess along, just go for the craziest possible explanation.
Actually, the full explication requires not one but two "groaners."
First, the missing girl and Dakota are two different girls and they are twin
sisters, despite the ultrasound. How could that be? That particular ultrasound
actually showed a third girl - a baby who died at birth. The father never told
the mother that her baby died. He just acquired one of two twin sisters born at
the same time by buying the girl from a whore who didn't want her babies. The
other baby was raised by someone else. Yes, that's right, it's the ol' unknown
twin trick! Even given the existence of the twin, consider the remaining
problems: how could the two girls have exactly identical injuries, and how could
Dakota's injuries have happened without her knowing about them? In this case the
explanation is not merely preposterous but completely impossible! I will not
spoil for you in case you want to watch this.
You may be wondering, "Why couldn't the investigators immediately ascertain that the two girls were
different people?" Well, you are correct to ask that. They could have. Dakota
was a real person who lived on the earth and left many footprints upon it. Real FBI agents would have figured
out in a matter of minutes. But these were movie FBI agents.
I think it was Roger Ebert who pointed out that bad thrillers require everyone to
be as stupid as possible at all times, because if the characters were as smart
as the audience, the film would be over too quickly. That's precisely what
happens here. The FBI seems to have about half of its personnel assigned to this
investigation, and the entire case hinges on whether "Dakota" is telling the
truth or not, but every single agent completely ignores the fact that there was a perfectly simple way
for them to check out her story: just ask her which strip
club she worked at, and take her down there to meet her boss. If the place
doesn't exist or if nobody there
has ever seen her, the Dakota personality is imaginary, and the girl might even
realize that and snap back
to her "other" personality. On the other hand, if it turns out that she is telling the truth, then the feds would
immediately realize that Dakota and the missing girl are in fact two different
girls and, since they have matching DNA, must be identical twins. (And remember
father could have confirmed this!) Despite all the law enforcement personnel
assigned to the case, including a psychologist, nobody ever says simply, "Which
strip club did you work at?" Hell, they wouldn't even have had to go to the
club. They probably could have figured out everything they needed with a short
phone call. On the other hand, that would have made for a mystery movie without
its central mystery, so their stupidity was required for the plot.
That wasn't the only case of the characters having to be as dense as possible.
Once Dakota and her twin's adoptive father
determine the killer's identity, they drive off to his torture lair by
themselves, without informing the police, because they have "no time" to call the cops. What the ... ? How much
time does it take for the passenger of a car to dial 911 on a cell phone while
the driver continues driving? And what made them think that a suburban dad and a
girl with one arm and one leg would even be capable of overcoming a psychopath with a
house full of blades and saws and other weapons?
I have a few more items like that down in my notes, but I can't see any sense in
turning this essay into a litany of similar items. I think you already have the idea.
The one plot-related item I want to add is something that you may have already
wondered about as you read the summary above. The missing girl's father knew all
along that he had purchased one of two twin girls, and therefore must have known
that Dakota very well could have been the twin sister he knew his daughter to
have. He chose to remain silent on the
matter until Dakota forced his hand, even though revealing this information
could have helped save his daughter. Remember that the feds stopped the hunt for
the missing girl because they thought she was found, so the father's silence was
condemning his daughter to death. On the other hand, if Dakota was known to be a twin, then
his daughter was still missing and might be alive, and the search for her needed to resume.
Is the film redeemed by
guilty pleasures? No, not unless you like torture, in which
case there is some occasional gore for your entertainment. If your pleasures
incline more toward seeing Lohan naked, you can forget it. The film's got
nothin' except some vivid red and blue imagery. I Know Who Killed Me is basically a typical straight-to-vid film and would have been
just that if the star had not been the controversial Lohan, whose media-grabbing
antics guaranteed some publicity for the film. By having snuck into the
metroplexes, it's a contender for the dishonor of being the worst theatrical
film of 2007.