In the horror genre, the serial killer subgenre is one of the most popular categories out there. From classic films like M, Psycho, and Deranged to modern classics like Silence of the Lambs, Se7en, Zodiac and the BRILLIANT and sadly underseen I Saw the Devil, serial killers capture audiences with their mysterious motivations and seemingly unfathomable acts. We find it hard to comprehend their actions and movies about them, much like true crime books, help us to try and understand and reconcile their existence. A new film out this year on Blu-ray and DVD takes a very interesting approach to the creation of a serial killer from the point of view of someone who actually lived the story. The film is My Friend Dahmer.
Jeff Dahmer (Ross Lynch) is just another awkward teenager struggling to make it through high school dealing with hard to manage parents, bullies and fellow students, girls, and just trying to fit in. When a group of band nerds headed by Derf Backderf (Alex Wolff) befriend Dahmer for their own amusement, Jeff starts to enjoy having other teens to hang out with, but as their antics get crazier and more disruptive and Jeff begins to realize the other boys are not exactly laughing ‘with’ him, his depravity escalates and spirals out of control.
My Friend Dahmer is based on Backderf’s critically acclaimed 2012 graphic novel based on his actual experiences going to high school with Dahmer. Written for the screen and directed by Marc Meyers, the film takes a very straightforward and unbiased approach to telling Dahmer’s story, as well as Backderfs. Dahmer’s life is a sad existence dealing with being different, trying to fight urges he can’t control, and dealing with his mother’s (Anne Heche) own mental health issues. And to add to the authenticity and disturbing factor, the scenes in the Dahmer household are actually filmed in Dahmer’s real life childhood home. Ross Lynch’s performance is multi layered and quite brilliant. He doesn’t play Jeff as a one dimensional crazed killer but rather a human being struggling with many issues we all must deal with and some we can’t even imagine. And My Friend Dahmer never preaches or condemns either, it just tells it how it was. Which makes for a fascinating, well made and provocative film with a unique insight into the development of a killer. Highly recommended.