Jeffrey Dahmer will be unfortunately remembered as a man who devastated the lives of seventeen families along with his utter lack of remorse. His crimes shook the very foundations of this country with the bizarre method of murder that was on every news station, newspaper and was nearly impossible to hear about when he was arrested on July 22, 1991. My Friend Dahmer examines the youth who would become the infamous serial killer we would later know as “The Milwaukee Cannibal”. It’s a story of his high school days, his apathy, and his disturbing fascination that became his ultimate fantasy.
Ross Lynch (best known for his wholesome roles on the Disney Channel) portrays the young Dahmer in a performance that is sure to send chills down your spine. Dahmer is in high school and is socially awkward around everyone. His parents Joyce and Lionel (Anne Heche of TV’s The Brave & Dallas Roberts of Mayhem) are neglectful of Dahmer and his younger brother David while both parents are often seen fighting with each other. Dahmer lives a life of seclusion and often finds himself experimenting with roadkill in a shed built behind his home and closely watching a male jogger run past his home three times a week with a lustful yet homicidal look in his eye.
Dahmer has no friends but after a bout of seeking attention from others, Derf (Alex Wolff, Patriot’s Day) befriends him. Derf, Dahmer and some other kids find ways to make other students laugh by faking epileptic seizures and talking as if he has cerebral palsy. It’s a chance for Dahmer to have some interaction with others, but his inner demons and disturbing interests are more of what he’s interested in. Director and screenwriter Marc Meyers (How He Fell in Love) gives a unique look into the monster that Dahmer would ultimately become. I sort of felt sorry for Dahmer in that his home life wasn’t the best or that his interests weren’t utilized into something more positive. His fascination with roadkill could’ve been studied with Biology once he goes to college, something that he later mentions in the film.
Being a true-crime researcher, My Friend Dahmer is an accurate portrayal of what he went through prior to his crimes. His binge-drinking, strange behavior and interests that we would consider odd all paint a picture of his psychology. As we watch the film, we begin to see what is important to Dahmer and how everything else in life is unimportant. Lynch’s performance transcends anything he has done for Disney and his portrayal is something that will remind you of Dahmer himself. Wolff and Lynch share good chemistry together and the impression of them being friends is noteworthy.
Verdict 4 out of 5
My Friend Dahmer exceeds in its performance from Lynch. Heche and Roberts do great work as Dahmer’s parents along with Wolff as the friend who later wrote the graphic novel from which this film is based off. I wish the film would’ve explored the earlier years of Dahmer when his fascination with dead animals began when he was just four years old. I do implore the idea of not showing any murder in the film, but I would’ve wanted to see the interaction between Dahmer and Steven Hicks (his first victim) prior to murder itself. My Friend Dahmer is a bold look into the mind of one of the most disturbing cases in America. This film manages to give an empathetic portrait of Dahmer in his youth, yet in that sense we don’t feel sorry for Dahmer because we know what he will eventually do. My Friend Dahmer just may surprise you and for crime-buffs, it’s one to not miss.