The Back Bones (Film Thoughts: My Friend Dahmer)

DFMD0s5VYAAvupeEven when it was in the headlines, I never really followed the story of Jeffrey Dahmer. I know he was a serial killer, and killed and chopped his victims, but, that was it. Going into Marc Meyer’s ‘My Friend Dahmer,’ I thought I was going to get the full picture, but then I realize now this film covers only his teenage years, as it is based on the graphic comic/novel written by his high school friend John Beckderf. What we get here is kind of the root of what happens next, and literally so, as the film ends as Dahmer meets his very first victim.

What we do see is a humanized Dahmer, one that is presented without any judgement, and we as an audience are left to ponder what the man is to become. So it seems he is a sort-of outsider in High School, prone to attention seeking antics by mimicking someone having epileptic seizures for fun. He gets in the group with three other young men. And from then on we see signs of his eccentricities – his obsession with carcasses, bones, ‘things that are inside.’  He comes from a dysfunctional family – his mother, played by Anne Heche, is kind of on the crazy side – she also favored his younger brother.

The performances here are uniformally good. Ross Lynch is fine as Dahmer, and I did not know that he is one of those wholesome Disney actors, so people are saying this is a great ‘stretch.’  Heche and Dallas Roberts play the parents, and they bring their own kind of eerieness in their performances.

I wish the film did more. I wish it was scarier, or more dramatic. To be honest, I thought it was on the bland side because surely a colorful character like Dahmer would make a more bombastic film.

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