My Friend Dahmer gives interesting insight into the early life of Jeffrey Dahmer

My Friend Dahmer gives interesting insight into the early life of Jeffrey Dahmer

Jeffrey Dahmer became a household name in a way unlike Pablo Picasso or Michael Phelps did. His name appeared in national news not for fantastic works of art or breaking world records, but instead for killing, raping, and dismembering 17 boys over the course of 13 years. This infamous serial killer has managed to enthrall people across the country; the vile acts of violence demonstrated how gruesome serial killings could be. Dahmer’s murders and convictions were what was publicized and how people came to know him– until My Friend Dahmer.

Former Disney star Ross Lynch took on the role of Dahmer during his final years at high school, and his performance exceeded my expectations. Until the release of My Friend Dahmer, Lynch had not been in any “mature” films, as all his movies had younger demographics and lacked enjoyable content for those above the age of thirteen. This led me to be reasonably concerned about the portrayal of a serial killer. A movie following the coming-of-age of Jeffrey Dahmer seemed sickeningly fascinating, and a Disney star didn’t appear to fit the bill of a serial killer. But as I said, I was pleasantly surprised. Lynch was able to demonstrate the tense nature of Dahmer and even fomented some sympathy from me.

Knowing I was sympathizing was the eeriest part of the film. Dahmer’s neglectful parents and his poor choice in friends broke my own heart. My Friend Dahmer demonstrated how the monster of Dahmer started from the same place we all do: in high school, struggling to make it in the world.

The most incredible part of Dahmer was how little had to happen to keep me hooked. The whole movie lacked any “action”; it was not gory, but rather eerie. We get to see a fascination with animals and an exploration of Dahmer’s sexuality, and while these things are not particularly gruesome, there is a blanket of discomfort throughout the film. Relating to a serial killer- even before he was a serial killer- feels’ wrong. However, just as people became fascinated with the case of Jeffrey Dahmer, I could not tear my eyes away from the screen; I just wanted to see how he ended up.

The one flaw with this movie is the required background knowledge of Dahmer. Although for the most part he is a household name, I didn’t know much about the specific details of his life until after the movie. Not only that, but the film did not inform me about all these specifics, but rather prompted me to visit the Jeffrey Dahmer Wikipedia page to learn more.

What I thought would be a poorly-done movie with the wrong cast turned out to be a phenomenal film that fascinated me all the way to the end. I thought I knew enough about the acclaimed serial killer, but it turns out there is more to his story than just dismemberment and disgusting murders. In fact, I sympathized with Jeffrey Dahmer, a household name with a bit of negative connotation.