My Friend Dahmer Movie Review
It’s tough being a serial killer, especially in high school. Bullies. Social pretense. The allure of roadkill. My Friend Dahmer, based on the true story of Jeffrey Dahmer’s pre-killing days, is an engaging, creepy and grounded drama that explores—or attempts to—the mind of one of the world’s most notorious killers.
Ross Lynch, who apparently is a sexy Disney star, plays the infamous Dahmer, a socially awkward young man who is befriended by a small group of classmates. Alex Wolff plays the author of the graphic novel upon which the movie is based—the classically named Derf Backderf. And Anne Heche plays Dahmer’s mentally disturbed mother.
Lynch is terrific, immersing himself in a role that challenges the viewer to at least slightly empathize with someone who would go onto rape and murder 17 people. In any other movie, he’d be that awkward teenage boy others pick on, but here his quirks and antics that at the time were seen as slightly endearing take on extra meaning.
There are no murders in My Friend Dahmer, only the ignored warning signs of what’s to come. The movie is both oddly and superbly about an existence that doesn’t stand out in any notable way, but that is largely an accurate portrayal of Dahmer based on interviews Backderf conducted, and of course what he experienced himself. It’s a coming-of-age film without the happy ending.
Because it doesn’t deal with a “fully functional” Dahmer, My Friend Dahmer lacks the spark of your typical serial killer movie. But for what it is, a drama about the boy who would become a mass murderer, it’s a well-made, deeply engaging tale.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.