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Movie Review

Aubrey Fleming is a pretty high school girl who longs to be a writer. She loves to read in English class about the inner-city escapades of her favorite character, Dakota Moss. Her small town of New Salem has recently been shaken by the kidnapping and brutal murder of a local girl. So when Aubrey goes missing, her parents fear the worst.

A few days later a driver spots a young girl lying bleeding and mutilated along the highway. The authorities believe her to be Aubrey. Her parents rush to the hospital only to discover that the young woman claims to be not their daughter, but a stripper named Dakota Moss.

Is this really another girl who looks exactly like Aubrey or has the trauma of the experience, which included drawn-out amputations of fingers, a hand and a leg, caused Aubrey to create a physiological alter ego?

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Positive Elements

While trying to stimulate her daughter's memory, Aubrey's mom, Susan, promises to stand by her and support her, no matter what. Aubrey's dad puts his life on the line to try to save his daughter.

Spiritual Content

Dakota looks up the word stigmata online and pages through a few "Christian" applications.

Sexual Content

This film seems addicted to gratuitous shots of strippers plying their trade. Images of topless (and nearly panty-less) women include raw angles and close-ups as the camera callously ogles. While dancing and writhing around onstage—in multiple scenes—Dakota strips down to see-through panties and pasties. Outside the club, Aubrey and Dakota wear cleavage-baring tops, very tight, form-revealing outfits and midriff-baring low-slung pants. Susan wears a low-cut top as well. Dakota shows off her back while in the shower.

Jerrod slides his hand up Aubrey's clothed thigh. She stops him, and at one point comments to her friends, "I'm done sleeping with guys I'm not in love with." Dakota, meanwhile, gives a condom to Jerrod, and has sex with him. The scene is lengthy and includes moans and movements. Dakota and Jerrod are both nude; we see torsos, backs, legs and the side of her breast. During their sex, the camera cuts repeatedly to Aubrey's mother who hears everything from downstairs. Dakota speaks of selling her body.

Full-body photos of the murderer's previous victim fill the screen. She's lying naked on an examining table (missing an amputated hand and leg). Conversations revolve around male/female anatomy, Aubrey's perception that Jerrod merely uses her for physical "relaxation" and Jerrod's frantic search for condoms. A man strips off his shirt and flirts with Aubrey, making suggestive motions with his hands.

Violent Content

When the camera isn't soaking up sex and nudity, it's leering at grotesque acts of violence and torture: up-close-and-personal shots of finger and limb removals, flesh-piercing and the stitching of digits back into place. Blood-curdling screams, the dry, cracking echo of crunching bones and the wet slashing sounds of sliced muscle and skin accompany the bloody sights.

We're forced to watch intimate views of the masked kidnapper/torturer pressing Aubrey's hand between two slabs of dry ice until her fingers turn blue and black. When he removes the ice, her skin rips away with it. He then cuts off one of her fingers.

Dakota hacks a man's hand off with a sharp blade. He tries to fit it back on its bloody stump. The killer attacks a woman with a shovel. Later, she stabs him (apparently in the crotch) and buries the blade in his neck. She's seen with her arm amputated at the wrist and her leg missing below the knee. Another woman is seen slumped over in a chair, several days dead and bloated. Dakota and Aubrey are hit in the face several times (resulting in bloody noses and lips).

An online "documentary" shows a man with a bullet hole in his throat, bleeding profusely.

Crude or Profane Language

The f-word is used about 20 times. It's accompanied by a handful each of the s-word, "h---," "a--," "d--n" and "b--ch." Jesus' name is abused twice. God's is combined with "d--n" once.

Drug and Alcohol Content

The torturer forcibly gives Aubrey pills that render her unconscious. To reduce her pain, Dakota takes prescription meds with alcohol. Men are seen with drinks in a strip club. A groundskeeper drinks beer in his truck.

A number of people smoke, including Dakota, Susan, and patrons and girls in the strip club. We see an ashtray jammed with cigarette butts at Dakota's mother's apartment.

Other Negative Elements

The woman who runs the strip club, when seeing that Dakota is seriously injured, does little more than offer her another towel to sop up the blood.

Conclusion

I'm trying my hardest to maintain my memories of Lindsay Lohan as an adorably precocious freckle-face in The Parent Trap and as the talented teen with loads of potential in Freaky Friday. And although I didn't care much for the movie, I enjoyed Lindsay's thoughtful portrayal of Lola in A Prairie Home Companion. So I've held out hope that the young thespian might somehow find a pathway through her recent public train wreck of a life, exhibited in paparazzi snaps and mug shots, to become the "serious adult actress" she claims to want to be.

I Know Who Killed Me will not help her along that path.

Oh, it's serious, all right. You don't get much more serious than amputations and torture mutilations. Perhaps she's confused about what constitutes "adult" acting, though. Eagerly participating in flesh-ripping abuse, nude sex scenes and sleazy pole dancing is a bad definition from the wrong dictionary.

She's also lost the ability to separate Oscar buzz from chain saw buzz. She recently declared, "I want to get a nomination. I want to win an Oscar." Not only will she not win a small golden statue for her role as Aubrey and Dakota in I Know Who Killed Me, Academy voters will be gleefully sending copies of the film to their Razzie Award neighbors, hoping they'll pick it as one of the worst films of the year. Beyond the huge plot hole near the end into which I fell headlong, wondering if maybe the projectionist had forgotten a reel of film, the section that was intended to exude terror generated laughter from the screening audience sitting around me. On the way out of the theater a row-mate suggested I categorize my review as a comedy.

But there's really nothing funny here. Just another grab bag of grisly close-ups intended to shock, combined with over-long, torpid strip scenes backdropped by career-starved actresses who lack anti-nudity clauses in their contracts.

That said, I'll abbreviate my instinct to rail against the movie industry for dragging American morality and the art of filmmaking through another mudhole of societal decay by remaining hopeful that it will disappear as quickly as it releases. After all, the only reason it will release at all is because lightning rod Lindsay is in it.

"I want to be known for more than, like, going out," Lohan said. And from the bottom of my film-reviewer's heart, I want that for her too. Since this film won't do the trick, I'll keep hoping and praying that she can make better decisions next time—onscreen and in her life.

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