Everyone who knows even the tiniest bit about serial killers has heard the name, Jeffrey Dahmer. Much like John Wayne Gacy and Ted Bundy, Dahmer lives in infamy as one of the most brutal and horrific serial killers known to man. Due to his notoriety, there have been many books, TV episodes, movies, and more that have attempted to tell the story of the deranged Jeffrey Dahmer, but none have been as accurate and chilling as a rendition I recently saw. You may have heard about My Friend Dahmer back in the fall, but surprisingly this movie has flown under the radar for most people since it was never truly released in theaters. This movie only showed at select theaters and usually just for a day or two due to its somewhat taboo content, but despite its obscure nature I highly recommend watching it if you can. I have never seen a take on the life of Jeffrey Dahmer quite like this movie portrays. With that being said here is the obligatory *spoiler warning* for those of you who want to see the film without knowing the twists and turns it’s going to take.
The truly unique thing that I liked about this movie was the angle the director chose to take in telling Dahmer’s story. He approached it from the beginning, now that might seem like a “well, duh” statement, but you would not believe how many movies about serial killers begin right when the killings start, and completely neglect the backstory of the man or woman committing the murders. It’s safe to say this movie does not make that mistake, beginning with a young Dahmer in high school. Originally, Dahmer is pretty much what people would expect a future serial killer to be like in high school, creepy with an undertone of weird and entirely isolated. He even has an odd obsession with a husky jogger he sees running by everyday, and as a casual hobby, he likes to find roadkill and dissolve the animal corpses in acid, so he is left with bones which he keeps for his collection. Not a very “normal” way to spend your spare time, I’d say, and his father agrees because not long into the movie Dahmer’s father, Lionel, confiscates all the bones and supplies Dahmer has and not so kindly tells his son he needs to make friends and stop being weird. Thus begins the real downfall of Jeffrey Dahmer.
As Dahmer realizes he either needs to make friends or else risk the further wrath from his father, he tries to figure out a way to interest the people around him, so like a typical guy looking for friends he starts imitating spasms and seizures. Yep. Surprisingly, his methods work too, and he soon has his own little friend group dubbed the “Dahmer Fan Club” where he is the leading man pulling pranks and tricks to entertain his companions. With his new friends, comes his new reputation in school as the funny guy always “doing a Dahmer” and making teachers more than a little spiteful. As one would expect, Dahmer wants to introduce his new friends to his family to prove to his dad specifically that he is “normal” and can make him proud. However, Dahmer’s mom, Joyce, has recently fallen back into her chronic mental illness that causes more and more fights between her and her husband. Her erratic behavior and tension in the family stemming from it lead Dahmer to begin binge drinking and keeping his friends as far away from his house as possible. This sudden and drastic change in his life leads Dahmer into the next chapter on his way to becoming a serial killer.
As his home life becomes increasingly unstable, Dahmer begins killing animals himself and developing an even more profound obsession with the jogger who runs by every day. Unfortunately, it turns out the jogger is a physician to one of Dahmer’s friends, and this leads to him faking an illness to get more up close and personal with this man he has been enamored with for a long time. As it turns out Dr. Matthew’s catches on and lets Dahmer know that he does not seem to have any illness and send him home. Dahmer ends up dreaming about Dr. Matthew’s corpse and even begins stalking him with a baseball bat, with which one can only assume he meant to murder the doctor. However, Dahmer never goes through with his plan to attack, and his life begins to take on a sense of normality again. Until he gets back from a field trip with his friends and finds out his dad has left without a single word to him. Through his pain and questions, Dahmer tries to remain in the loop with his friends by taking a date to prom, but ultimately he leaves her to drink and throw a much-needed tantrum. From this point on he begins to drift from his group of friends and then right before graduation he comes home to see his mom has packed up and is taking his brother with her, ultimately abandoning Dahmer which only leads him further into dark waters.
In the final leg of the movie, Lionel returns only to give Dahmer house and car keys before leaving once again. Now on his own living in the house, Dahmer slowly spirals out of control until one night he is walking home alone with blood-caked fingernails and one of his spots him and offers a ride back home. The trip is one of the tensest moments in the movie as you start to feel his friends uncertainty about taking Dahmer home. Once they arrive, Dahmer expressed his lack of plans for the future as his friend tells him he is leaving for college the following morning. Dahmer attempts to draw his old friend inside with promises of a quick drink, but as the tension builds his friend quickly bails. Dahmer stalks after him with a bat but promptly decides not to take action and allow his friend to leave. After this Dahmer never has contact with his high school friends again. The following morning Dahmer is driving past a concert when he sees a hitchhiker, he almost drives past but at the last second decides to reverse and get him. The hitchhiker is revealed to be Steven Hicks, Dahmer’s first victim, and the credits roll as they drive away together.
There is no way to describe the unsettling feeling that hits you as the credits scroll past and you sit in the dark of your room thinking about what you just saw. There was not a single murder in this movie about a serial killer, yet it is somehow eerier than any other film I have seen about serial killers. The uniqueness of this movie comes from the fact that this is not a gruesome gore-fest of all the horrible things Jeffrey Dahmer did, nor is it a “you should feel bad for him” type of movie. This is merely an all-around showcase of this cruel man’s life and how it all spiraled out of control.