My Friend Dahmer
Ross Lynch, Alex Wolff, Dallas Roberts, Anne Heche
One of the world’s most infamous and chillingly depraved serial killers, Jeffrey Dahmer murdered 17 men and boys in the American Midwest between 1978 and 1991 before being captured and incarcerated. Marc Meyers’ (How He Fell in Love) drama offers a prequel to the bloodshed. It’s fascinatingly based on a 2012 graphic novel by cartoonist John Backderf who was a school friend of Dahmer’s in the ’70s, shortly before he started to kill.
Jeff Dahmer (Ross Lynch) is an awkward Ohio teenager whose family life is in ruins. He collects roadkill and fixates on a neighbourhood jogger (Vincent Kartheiser of TV’s Mad Men) while trying to cope with his unstable mother (Anne Heche) and well-intentioned father (Dallas Roberts). Beginning to act out at school, his goofball antics win over a group of band-nerds who form ‘The Dahmer Fan Club’, headed by Derf Backderf (Alex Wolff). But their camaraderie can’t mask Jeff’s growing depravity and as he approaches graduation, he spirals further out of control, inching ever closer to madness.
Released in the States to an admiring critical reception, Meyers’ film opens a window into the formative years of a serial killer in an enlightening, original and highly disturbing take on a typical coming-of-age story. A rich, complex film that humanises Dahmer even as it intelligently refuses to minimise his incipient monstrousness, it’s enhanced hugely by a star-making performance by Lynch in the title role.