• Tue. Jul 16th, 2024

My Friend Dahmer – An Impressive Look Into Jeffrey Dahmer’s High School Years!

My Friend Dahmer is directed by Marc Meyers, and is based on the graphic novel of the same name by John “Derf” Backderf. The film stars Ross Lynch, Alex Wolff, Dallas Roberts, and Anne Heche. The film premiered in April at film festivals, with a wider (though still limited) release in November.

My Friend Dahmer is the story of Jeffrey Dahmer’s high school years. In his teens, Dahmer is a socially awkward student who is a regular target for bullies and harassment, but finds an interest in studying and dissecting dead animals, due in part to having a father working in chemistry. As the school year progresses, Dahmer’s misbehavior and antics win him the respect of a small circle of friends, but descending deeper into drugs, alcohol, his personal obsessions, and dealing with his parents divorcing and his closeted homosexuality, he is set on a path of destruction that will culminate in his transformation into one the most infamous serial killers in the United States.

 

 

My Friend Dahmer is an interesting film, to say the least, in that it explores the younger life of Jeffrey Dahmer, before he began his killings. The film does a solid job painting a picture of a distraught and socially awkward young man who would rather be dissecting and dissolving roadkill than joining more social group activities, and also beautifully demonstrates the effects of parental neglect and divorce on children and teens. While the film is not perfect and does spend a little too much time on tertiary elements, it accomplishes what it sets out to do, for the most part.

Ross Lynch is the perfect actor to portray the young Dahmer, and shines in every scene of the movie, be it one that demonstrates the homicidal nature that will eventually take over his mind entirely, or one where he struggles for acceptance or to even get attention of any kind. I would not exactly say the film makes him sympathetic or his future actions forgivable, yet Lynch does make the character appealing in his own way despite this. This is a far cry from the parts that Lynch has played on Disney Channel shows, which makes it all the more uncomfortable and disorienting to the audience.

The supporting cast fares nearly as well, with Alex Wolff as Derf, Dahmer’s artist friend (the real life Derf would later be the author of the My Friend Dahmer graphic novel that would inspire this film), and Anne Heche as Dahmer’s troubled, deadbeat mother who battles addiction. Other superb portrayals include Vincent Kartheiser as a doctor who Dahmer simultaneously pines for and wants to kill, and Dallas Roberts as his well-meaning father.

While the film is solid overall, a few elements fall flat. There are some elements/subplots/etc. that feel underdeveloped, and some events that feel tertiary and unnecessary. These elements include a subplot involving a potential friend early in the film that is also a bullying victim, and an outlaw student who deals drugs and owns weapons; the latter in particular was clearly an influence in Dahmer’s addiction and obsessions later in life, and it is a shame we don’t see this relationship developed more in the film. There are also a few other scenes that hint at other relationships/developments, though we do not really get the necessary follow-through; in many cases I am guessing the filmmakers wanted to imply things rather than tell directly, though this is not all a bad thing. The film probably could have been about 15 minutes shorter with a few additional subplots/unneeded tertiary elements trimmed, but overall the final product satisfies.

My Friend Dahmer does a solid job representing the early lives of one of the most infamous men in the United States, long before his most heinous of acts. It is fantastic to get a Dahmer film that focuses more on his early life, rather than simply being depictions of the future killings everyone knows him for. The movie does an impressive job setting the seeds into place for the future, and definitely gets a recommendation from his moviegoer.

Rating: Two-and-a-half out of four stars.

 

 

DISCLAIMER: All images in this review are the property of the respective copyright holders. For promotional use only. All rights reserved.

By Taylor T Carlson

Taylor T Carlson Assistant Editor/Senior Staff Writer Taylor T. Carlson was born August 17, 1984, and has called the Vegas Valley home his entire life. A die-hard fan of classic rock and metal music, Taylor has been writing album and concert reviews since he was 16 years old, and continues to do so, having done well over 1,000 reviews. He is also a fan of video gaming and cinema, and has reviewed a number of games and films as well, old and new alike. His thorough and honest (some would say brutally honest) reviewing style has won him the respect of hundreds of music fans and musicians alike, both local and abroad, and the ire of just as many others. Despite being one of the youngest attendees at classic hard rock/metal shows around Vegas, he is also one of the most knowledgeable, having gained the unofficial nickname of “The Eddie Trunk of Las Vegas.” In addition to reviews, Taylor has written and self-published three books on classic hard rock bands, and is a regular participant in rock and roll trivia contests. Taylor also holds a masters degree in special education from the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV), and has appeared on the hit History Channel television series Pawn Stars. His dream is to be able to one day make a living from writing music books and reviews.

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