My Friend Dahmer (2017) (mini-review++)

(If you’re curious, my review process. It’s also pasted at the end of this post. I don’t believe in Rotten Tomatoes. I just believe in me.)

(***all-purpose SPOILER ALERT*** there may be some in this review)

acting 6

directing 6

effects 6

editing 6

writing 6

SW SCORE: 3

3 out of 5 🐙

++

This is a study in creepiness. I’m not gonna front. I think serial killers are fascinating and if the amount of serial killer themed entertainment (in books, movies, television) is any indication, a lot of people feel the way I do. But I don’t think I had ever heard of a story about a serial killer’s teen years. But then one of Jeffrey Dahmer’s high school classmates, who claimed he was a friend of Dahmer’s, wrote a graphic novel detailing his impressions of the famous monster as a teenager.

If you really are a fan of serial killer stories, you won’t be too surprised by a lot of the “revelations” in this film.

He had a mentally ill and cruel mother. Anne Heche gives a wonderfully unbalanced portrayal of Joyce Dahmer. She’s so toxic you find yourself feeling sorry for Jeffrey Dahmer (played with cool detachment by Ross Lynch). But if you’re aware of his late atrocities, the flash of sympathy dissipates quickly. With his mother’s mental machinations, you get nature and nurture rolled up in one. 

He doesn’t seem to display emotions. He is placid, and that’s how Ross Lynch plays him. It’s almost as if he’s a ghost that is visiting the human plane, but people can see him. But I don’t think he sees people. He doesn’t see any inherent value in a human being. 

He kills small animals and has a super creepy shed full of them in really creepy jars and bottles. Am I using the word creepy too much? Too bad. 

The final explanation for his twisted destiny comes from Dahmer himself. In a creepy (yes, creepy again) voiceover, he acknowledges that he is not like you and me. In explaining why he asked a girl to the dance and why he socialized with some classmates, he notes “it’s good to look normal”. He’s quite literally a wolf in sheep’s clothing. 

The final scene is a terrifying moment between Dahmer and one of his so-called friends. The director ably tortures the viewer by giving us all the cues that this will be the moment when Dahmer graduates from fantasy and animals to base evil. But I won’t say if he does. 

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(1) Shark Wrighter (SW) Score: Based on a sum of 5 sub-scores (acting, directing, writing/story, effects: cinematography &/or animation &/or effects, editing) with 1 being terrible and 10 being terrific.

(2) Octopuses (0-5 🐙, with 5 being fantastic and 0 being feces)

(3) Octopuses are my unquantifiable feeling…not that SW score is scientific…but this one is even less so

(4) ++ This optional section includes any incredibly *brilliant observations that don’t fit into simple quantitative slices like the scores and octopuses *(they are likely NOT brilliant)

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