directed by David Jacobson
(First Look, 2002)

I've seen several recent films based upon the lives of prolific serial killers (Bundy, B.T.K., etc.), and none of them have been any good. Dahmer is no exception; in fact, it is worse than the others. I'm afraid I can't buy into any of the artsy-fartsy, pseudo-intellectual spin this film gets in some quarters.

Quite frankly, all I saw was a really bad movie. I simply don't see how you can present any kind of story about Jeffrey Dahmer without at least alluding to the fact that the man freaking ate his victims. All the psychological nonsense this movie throws your way with its endless flashbacks and fictionalized recreation of dialogue and events is patently useless because it ignores the most telling and significant of his psychological problems. My problem is not the fact that this film is really just a character study of a troubled young man; rather, it's the fact that it's a very bad character study.

I'm afraid I really have nothing good to say about this film. I wasn't really impressed by Jeremy Renner's performance as Dahmer, I despised the constant flashback loops (which I consider the sole domain of weak directors) throughout the story and I thought the ambiguous ending pretty much encapsulated everything that was wrong with the entire film. This is a film almost wholly lacking in substance.

Obviously, with the whole cannibalism thing totally off the table, this film barely registers on the blood and gore meter. I don't have a problem with that, especially since I was already well aware of the exceedingly disturbing nature of Jeffrey Dahmer's murderous acts. I do have a problem with the fact that this film really only hints at the scope and depravity of all the murders. If you already know a good bit about Jeffrey Dahmer, you won't learn anything new in this film. If you know nothing about Dahmer going in, you won't know much more about him at the end -- but you may think you have some insight into his character. That, in my opinion, is the crux of this film's many problems.

review by
Daniel Jolley

12 February 2011

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