My Friend Dahmer - Movie Review by Ben Cahlamer

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My Friend Dahmer


Directed by Marc Meyers

Written by Marc Meyers based on My Friend Dahmer by Derf

Starring Ross Lynch, Alex Wolff, Vincent Kartheiser, Anne Heche, Dallas Roberts, Liam Koeth


Set in 1978, Marc Meyers’ My Friend Dahmer, is a stark look at the adolescent life of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer in Ohio. In the titular role of Mr. Dahmer is Ross Lynch, who was cast against type for this film. Mr. Lynch is best known as one of the members of the pop rock band, R5 and has imbued his acting career with multiple Disney Channel characters. So, it is with a great sense of satisfaction that I can say his performance as the troubled and demented Dahmer is sublime.

Based on the graphic novel, My Friend Dahmer by Derf, Mr. Meyers surrounds Mr. Lynch with exceptional talent. Playing Derf is Alex Wolff. Although they didn’t start out, or even end up as friends, Derf was in the best position to give the world insight into some of the schizophrenic, and brilliant tendencies of Mr. Dahmer.

The source of much of Mr. Dahmer’s troubles were his parents, neither of whom were mentally stable either, at least in the film. Dallas Roberts plays Lionel Dahmer, an introvert with anti-social tendencies. He is someone who has adapted to world around him in order to provide for his family. The interaction between Lionel and Jeffrey is awkward, but there was genuine affection between father and son. Anne Heche plays Joyce Dahmer, Jeffrey’s mother. Ms. Heche was so very much in character that I didn’t recognize her. And that’s important because of the type of character she plays. Newcomer, Liam Koeth plays Jeffrey’s younger brother, Dave. Mr. Koeth was very passive in his role, but that serves to emphasize the dangers around him.

Mr. Meyers’ script focuses on the family dynamic, which gives the impression that it was the source of Jeffrey’s tendencies.  Interestingly, Jeffrey never turned his tendencies towards his family. At least, not in this film. He didn’t even turn them towards his friends. To the world, he seemed to be a strange, anti-social high schooler.

One thing that was extremely evident in Mr. Meyers’s script was Jeffrey’s homosexual tendencies, which Mr. Dahmer used to target his victims. Early in the film, Mr. Meyers establishes one of Jeffrey’s targets, Dr. Matthews, played by Vincent Kartheiser. There’s a scene later in the film between Jeffrey and Dr. Matthews that is awkwardly funny, but doesn’t seem out of place. Mr. Lynch’s coy approach blends extremely well with Mr. Kartheiser’s sarcasm.

I grew up in Wisconsin and a friend of mine used to joke that I grew up among some of the most heinous serial killers known to the world. I was a teenager when they finally apprehended Jeffery Dahmer. I knew of him from the news, but it never occurred to me just how truly dangerous he was. Mr. Lynch was perfectly cast as Mr. Dahmer and is surrounded by talent that really enhances his performance.

In a limited theatrical release now, Mr. Meyers’ My Friend Dahmer is a solid look into the adolescent mind of one of the nation’s high profile serial killers.

Ben’s rating 3 out of 4