My Friend Dahmer
7th October 2017 6.20pm at Prince Charles Cinema
8th October 2017 6.10pm at Hackney Picturehouse
On the evening of 22nd July 1991, Jeffrey Dahmer was handcuffed and taken to Milwaukee Police Station after picking up a frightened and bound Tracey Edwards. What was discovered at the arrested man’s apartment was beyond any imagination. A lot is recollected about Dahmer’s years as an active serial killer, but less is discussed about how he grew up to be the man he became. Of course, he was once a school student like everyone else, so what was his childhood really like? This is a question that has been answered by director Marc Meyers with the help of John Backderf’s 2012 graphic novel My Friend Dahmer.
Jeffrey Dahmer (Ross Lynch) is in his senior year at Revere High School and a social outcast. He participates in a few extracurricular activities including the school band, but his real interests lie at home in his private shed. Inside, the teenager has stored a disturbing collection of dissected road kill and animal bones for, as he claims, research. His parents fight continuously and his father wishes for him to “be more normal”, so Jeffrey attempts to make new friends by “doing the Dahmer”, a series of exaggerated gestures and spasms that entertain his class mates. As the end of his school life approaches, Jeffrey struggles more and more to conceal his urges, his sexuality and alcohol abuse.
Meyers presents an intriguing study into the mind of the young Jeffrey Dahmer, focusing not on the acts he is doomed to commit in the future, but on how difficult life can be for such a social outcast with dark thoughts. This role is one of Lynch’s first major breaks on the silver screen and would no doubt be a daunting task for the singer-turned-actor, but he manages the character with a grace and empathy that shows the pre-killer as the troubled soul he was. There are commendable performances from Tommy Nelson and Alex Wolff, appearing as Jeffrey’s main friends throughout the final school year and perfectly displaying the void in the social disparity between Dahmer and everyone else.
The script contains moments of light and dark humour, a large amount coming in the form of the established Anna Heche as Jeffrey’s stubborn and argumentative mother Joyce. My Friend Dahmer is a compelling take on the difficult childhood of a serial killer, slowly depicting the destabilising of a frustrated mind and is a refreshing and welcome change to the world of horror biopics.
My Friend Dahmer does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2017 coverage here.
For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.
Watch the trailer for My Friend Dahmer here: