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My Friend Dahmer

USA 2017
produced by
Milan Chakraborty, Jody Girgenti, Adam Goldworm, Michael Merlob, Marc Meyers, Giorgio Angelini (executive), Mike Novogratz (executive) for Ibid Filmworks, Aperture Entertainment, Attic Light Films
directed by Marc Meyers
starring Vincent Kartheiser, Anne Heche, Ross Lynch, Alex Wolff, Dallas Roberts, Miles Robbins, Harrison Holzer, Carmen Gangale, Christopher Mele, Cameron McKendry, Tommy Nelson, Katie Stottlemire, Zachary Davis Brown, Dontez James, John Vella, Dave Sorboro, Liam Koeth, Sydney Jane Meyer, Dylan Keith Adams, Jack DeVillers, Ramona Schwalbach, Gary Lee Vincent, Rod Fielder, Nicholas Hulstine, Nancy Telzerow, Tom Luce, C.J. Rush, Mark Aaron Buerkle, Jake Ingrassia, David Vegh, Jessica Jones, Nate Hammer, Laura Masi Cline, Mike Kukral, Brady M.K. Dunn, Paul Kulis, Michael Ryan Boehm, Donnie Dunn, Karin Boesler, Denny Sanders, Adam Kroloff
screenplay by Marc Meyers, based on the graphic novel by Derf Backderf, music by Andrew Hollander

Jeffrey Dahmer

review by
Mike Haberfelner

The late 1970s, and it's Jeffrey Dahmer's (Ross Lynch) last year in high school. He has always been a loner and subject to bullying, and his relief from that is dissecting roadkill - until his dad (Dallas Roberts) destroys his "lab" and tells him to get more friends ... shortly before he and Dahmer's mum (Anne Heche) get a divorce, both of which throws off Jeffrey even more. To attract more attention in school, Jeffrey pretends to have spasmic attacks, which get a lot of laughs, but most of his colleagues thinks he's just weird. Not so a small gang of nerds led by Derf (Alex Wolff), who soon found the "Jeffrey Dahmer fanclub" and egg him on to drive his spastic performances to new heights - even if the shenanigans they plan aren't always in the best of Jeffrey's interest. Things get worrying only by the end of the year, as being out of high school and his scarce friends moving to other cities to go to college leave a big hole in Jeffrey's life, not at all filled by the fact that his mother has moved out, his father's on business trip, and Jeffrey's left to his own troubling thoughts ...

 

Now I'll freely admit that I have not read the graphic novel this movie is based on, and my knowledge about the real Jeffrey Dahmer is spotty at best - and yet, this film, chronicling Jeffrey's last year in high school and ending only minutes before his first murder, doesn't ring right. Basically, it doesn't try to paint an accurate picture of Dahmer the young man but merely ticks off all the boxes: Oh, he's bullied, he's a loner, he has a macabre fascination for dead things, his parents get a divorce, his "friends" just use him for laughs - it really sounds more like a "how to make a serial killer"-manual rather than a serious analysis, and then the whole thing seems much too episodic to get its story across, especially since most episodes lack a proper resolution, they seem to just be there for their own weirdness. On top of this, Jeffrey Dahmer is never afforded any character development, the audience is supposed to just accept that he's weird without any insight. Actually almost all the characters are clichés or caricatures, only Derf, the graphic novel writer's alter ego, comes across as relateable, because he is allowed to have both virtues and fails, is allowed to be real.

In all, not a total train wreck, but a missed opportunity.

 

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Tales to Chill
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Tales to Chill
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Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD