MY FRIEND DAHMER, the latest film from director Marc Meyers (How He Fell In Love), is based off the acclaimed graphic novel of the same name which gives viewers insight into the life of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer during his teenage years. The film stars Ross Lynch (“Austin and Ally”), Alex Wolff (Hereditary), Anne Heche (Six Days Seven Nights), and Dallas Roberts (3:10 to Yuma).
We are all familiar with notorious serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, but few of us know how he became the monster he is. In MY FRIEND DAHMER we get to see Dahmer as a teenager, navigating his way through high school while attempting to make friends and fit in. On the surface he comes off socially awkward, but the further we dive into his life, we realize the sociopathic tendencies he inhabits as they lead up to his first kill. This film isn’t made for us to feel sympathy for Dahmer, but to give us a window into his home life and how he became the monster he was known for.
I’ll start this by saying that serial killers scare the ever loving shit out of me. I have a hard time watching movies or listening to podcasts about “famed” serial killers because of how horrifying their actions are. Going into MY FRIEND DAHMER, I knew very little about the life of Jeffrey Dahmer and I was fine with that; however, I kept hearing people rave about this film so my curiosity eventually won me over. For a film that barely shows any violence, MY FRIEND DAHMER is one of the most unsettling films I’ve seen this year as it takes the notion of psychological thriller to a whole new level.
What makes this movie so god damn effective is the talent of Ross Lynch who embodies Jeffrey Dahmer in his characteristics and mannerisms. As an actor known mainly for Disney films and shows, Lynch took a hell of a bold step into serial killer territory and it paid off in ten folds. I was blown away by his transformation and applaud him for going for a role that was clearly out of his comfort zone. Along with Lynch, I also enjoyed seeing Alex Wolff, who portrays Dahmer’s friend, John ‘Derf’ Backderf (who is also responsible for writing the graphic novel). Wolff is quickly becoming a rising talent, having appeared in films such as Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and the upcoming horror film Hereditary. It was also nice to see Anne Heche in a film, as she portrayed Dahmer’s mother, and honestly, they couldn’t have picked a better actress. Heche is known for being a bit kooky, which translated perfectly in her adaptation of Joyce Dahmer.
The crux of this film’s focus is mainly on the story. It shows how Dahmer was bullied in highschool for being different as well as the turmoil that he faced at home between his parents constantly fighting, his mom dealing with mental issues, and his father being more focused on work than his family. The signs that something was incredibly off with Dahmer were there, but it’s apparent that no one realized it until it was too late; however, there is one scene where Dahmer’s father does try to put a stop to Jeffrey’s obsession with dead animals. I won’t sit here and say that I feel bad for Jeffrey Dahmer, considering the monster he becomes, but it makes me wonder if the bullying and lack of parental attention and affection triggered something deep within him. Could that have been a catalyst for things to come? Or was he always meant to become a killer from the moment he was born? These are the questions that I think are at the heart of MY FRIEND DAHMER and questions that I’m not sure will ever get answers too.
Overall, as much as MY FRIEND DAHMER disturbed me, it has easily become one of the best films I’ve seen this year. Fans of true crime will find a lot to love with this film and I think it is an excellent dissection into the life of Dahmer prior to his killings. There’s a lot of insight and details to dive into for both fans of true crime and newcomers. Did MY FRIEND DAHMER make me uncomfortable? You bet your ass it did, and at the end of the day isn’t that the point? If anything, films like this once again prove that humans are capable of being real life monsters.
MY FRIEND DAHMER is now available to own on Blu-ray and DVD.