My Friend Dahmer

One of the most infamous serial killers in America, My Friend Dahmer is a part biographical account of his later teenhood at school adapted from the same titled graphic novel by one time school friend John Backderf. The film is an account of Jeffrey’s (played by Ross Lynch) of his social awkwardness, fixation with decomposing and dissecting road kill, amidst his mother (Anne Heche) descends into delirium, which would eventually break up his parents’ marriage. After acting out at school pretending to be mentally handicapped, he attracts the attention of one small clique led by Derf, (Alex Wolf) who believe there is a coolness behind Dahmer and want to exploit his act outs for school infamy. With this encouragement, he becomes a little more unpredictable and begins to lose self-restraint, fall into alcoholism and drift back into being a lonely outsider.

Director Marc Meyer’s does a very fine job not to over sensationalise the story, that someone of Dahmer’s profile would almost naturally court. It’s well paced and the era and location of Dahmer’s upbringing is presented with a certain amount of cinematic lush by DoP Daniel Katz. It’s well performed throughout the cast, although perhaps Heche is a notch too far as she increasingly becomes insane, but it does make for some mild amusement. The story does well not to suggest any of these moments as the catalyst for the actions he would become notorious for. There are flashes that provide some minor shocks of horror. It’s ironic that by not overplaying the story Meryer’s has made a good film and by this presentation, I wouldn’t want it done any other way, but because it doesn’t quite have any moments to be considered sensation-able, it stops it from being a great film.

★★★

Chris Aitken