Much like the ongoing real-world meltdown of its troubled star, Lindsay Lohan, “I Know Who Killed Me” is a disaster that exerts a perverse fascination. Indie helmer Chris Sivertson (“The Lost”) flounders throughout his first mainstream venture, even as he demonstrates flashes of visual flair and sporadic mastery of moods, and never seizes full control of the hopelessly muddled plot about a maimed young woman who may be a delusional escapee from a serial killer’s dungeon (think “Captivity” meets “Kiss the Girls”). Pic might possibly benefit, B.O.-wise, from tabloid coverage of Lohan’s ongoing travails. But, then again, probably not.
Opening scenes initially come off as a teasing fake-out, with Lohan introed as a sensuous stripper who may actually be the literary invention of budding writer Aubrey Fleming (also Lohan). Aubrey is a model student who firmly rebuffs the too-amorous attentions of a high school quarterback (Brian Geraghty), but shamelessly flirts with the brash hunk who maintains her family’s lawn. (Consistency is not the pic’s strong point.) When she inexplicably disappears, her anxious parents (Julia Ormond, Neal McDonough) fear the worst. And rightly so.
Days later, Aubrey turns up as a bloody mess on the side of a country road, missing much of an arm and most of a leg. Her amputations seem to match the m.o. of a serial killer targeted by area police and FBI agents. But when Aubrey awakens, she claims she can’t remember anything about her ordeal. Indeed, she insists she isn’t even Aubrey. Rather, she is Dakota Moss, the stripper glimpsed in the opening scenes.
Whether she’s coping with Aubrey’s distraught parents, cavorting with the amazed but grateful quarterback or wrapping herself around a stripper’s pole during garishly lit flashbacks, Lohan makes a game effort to talk tough and strut her stuff. Trouble is, despite her effectively overripe physicality, she’s never entirely convincing, and occasionally borderline laughable, in her tough-cookie aggressiveness.
(Unfair as it may be to dwell on Lohan’s offscreen misadventures, it must be noted that, during a scene in which Dakota plies herself with booze and drugs before stumbling through her onstage gyrations, some members of the audience almost certainly will shout rude things at the screen.)
Sivertson tries to paper over the inanities and inconsistencies of Jeffrey Hammond’s script by striving for a kind of visual and narrative stylization that suggests a gradual immersion in dream logic. As a result, a few scenes — especially those infused with the same sort of sweaty, pulpy intensity Sivertson sustained during “The Lost,” a fest-circuit fave that’s overdue for wider exposure — crackle with an eroticized sense of danger.
More often, however, pic arbitrarily lurches from one scene to the next, with key transitions and revelations merely announced, not dramatized. When Sivertson resorts to having paranormal expert Art Bell cameo as himself to explain the gimmick of the Aubrey/Dakota connection, it’s difficult to tell whether it’s a sign of desperation or a flourish of self-parody.
Supporting performances are uneven, but Eddie Steeples makes the most of a fleeting role as a prosthetics tech who helps with Aubrey/Dakota’s accelerated rehab. The violence stops just short of torture-porn excess, but remains sufficiently graphic to gross out auds not yet immune to such cinematic carnage.
Sivertson’s expressionistic use of color — sometimes artful, sometimes obvious — is enhanced by John R. Leonetti’s high-def lensing.