My Friend Dahmer (2017)

my friend dahmer poster 2017 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

An creepy look at how a killer develops

Odd balance

Movie Info

Movie Name:   My Friend Dahmer

Studio:   Ibid Filmworks

Genre(s):   Drama/Comic Book

Release Date(s):   April 21, 2017 (Tribeca Film Festival)/November 3, 2017 (US)

MPAA Rating:   R

my friend dahmer club friend derf backderf alex wolff tommy nelson harrison holzer

With friends like these…

Jeffrey Dahmer (Ross Lynch) just seems to float through life.  His mother (Anne Heche) is mentally unstable and his father (Dallas Roberts) is detached.  Jeffrey is obsessed with death and dismemberment and confused about his sexually.  When he is “befriended” by John “Derf” Backderf (Alex Wolff), Neil (Tommy Nelson), and Mike (Harrison Holzer), Jeffrey finds he’s liked for his bizarre antics.  As the darkness continues to grow inside of Jeffrey, Jeffrey may not be able to escape his fate.

Directed by Marc Meyers, My Friend Dahmer is Meyers’ adaptation of Derf Backderf’s award nominated graphic novel from 2012.  The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and received a limited release.  The film was relatively well received.

I can remember the whole Jeffrey Dahmer thing happening.  It was a big news story (as serial killer often are), and Dahmer’s particularly gruesome crimes and his ending were heavily covered.  I read the book My Friend Dahmer when it was released and thought it was an interesting read…while what I remember about the book is a bit dim, the movie seemed fairly accurate and maybe a bit more on target.

my friend dahmer 2017 doctor scene ross lynch vincent kartheiser

Uh…doctor…do you want to see my clubhouse?

The thing I remember that the movie seemed to make a bigger point of is that “friend” needs to be in quotation marks.  The author of the book and his friends kind of used Dahmer and kept him around not because they particularly liked him, but because he amused them…almost like a pet (they call him a mascot).  It is this relationship that the movie makes an interesting point exploring and had to make them question (when they learned the truth) if they could have done anything different or said anything…my guess is no, especially when this took place and things were less understood, but it does raise questions.

Ross Lynch was cast against his previous roles.  Lynch was a Disney actor and part of the teen band R5, but here he lurches and drinks as many said Dahmer did in real life.  Derf Backderf isn’t as developed with more focus on Dahmer (which leads to a tricky balance), and both Anne Heche and Dallas Roberts are a little underused as well as the bizarre parents of Dahmer.

my friend dahmer prom date ross lynch

Don’t worry…you’re safe, girl

The movie is a period piece in that it is set in the late ’70s.  This primarily is done with styles and cars and actually is a bit more realistic than movies that try to go over the top with the look and feel of the decade.  It was Ohio in the ’70s and probably more visually realistic than if everyone was wearing leisure suits and bellbottoms.

My Friend Dahmer was an interesting movie that’s imperfections are based in the real story more than anything.  Derf had little real insight into what Jeffrey was feeling or experiencing and any perceptions of what he was personally going through were revealed by Dahmer himself after his capture.  With that in mind, it feels like the story needed to be either less friend-centric or less-Dahmer-centric…but for what it was, it is a chilling (and somewhat humanizing) look at the development of a killer.

Related Links:

My Friend Dahmer

The Jeffrey Dahmer Files

DahmerMonster:  The Jeffrey Dahmer Story Review and Complete Episode Guide

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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