DAHMER

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DAHMER - 2002
USA Release: June 21, 2002
First Look Pictures / Blockbuster Films / Peninsula Films
Rating: Canada: 18A / USA: R

Are you gonna eat that?

DAHMER was written and directed by David Jacobson (CRIMINAL [TV]). He doesn't do any Dahmer jokes so I felt the need to open with one.

I don't do it to minimize the monstrosity of Dahmer's crimes or the grief of the families and loved ones of his victims. But what this guy actually, really, did is so far removed from normal behavior that humor becomes a shield between sanity and the mental abyss Dahmer represents.

Wow, that was deep. Was the movie as eloquent as me?

The story opens in the chocolate factory where Jeffery Dahmer (Jeremy Renner: A NIGHTMARE COME TRUE [TV]) works the late shift. The images of chocolate pouring from a pipe and Dahmer at times covered in chocolate are disturbing in an unexplainable way.

TRIVIA

Jeffery Dahmer was a very unusual kind of serial killer.

Such miscreants are usually motivated by revenge on society in general and women in particular for all the wrongs they perceive as having been done to them. They're usually losers of one kind or another but none of what's wrong with their lives is their fault. Their murders are a way to feel strong and in control. But Dahmer was different in that murdering his victim was the beginning rather than the end of the ritual. He'd admitted to being sexually aroused by corpses as early as age 14.

I think creatures like Dahmer may be the origin of vampire myths. Imagine someone like this, murdering boys in a medieval city. Maybe, when he realizes the locals have become suspicious, he simply leaves town one night. Then his home is examined and all the partially eaten body parts and ritually prepared skulls are found. How would superstitious, illiterate people react to such discoveries? What stories would spread outward from an event like this, growing in the telling - though they'd hardly need to?

Jeffery cruises a local mall and meets a young Asian guy named Khamtay (Dion Basco). We see what came to be the standard procedure for Dahmer's victims who were lured back to Dahmer's apartment, then drugged, murdered, raped (if that term applies to the dead) and sometimes devoured.

Khamtay represents perhaps Dahmer's most heartbreaking real victim because after drugging him and performing some experimental brain surgery with a drill, Dahmer goes out to pick up some more beer. Khamtay wakes up enough to stagger out into the street where passersby call the cops. When Dahmer comes upon this scene on his way home he lovingly puts his arm around Khamtay and tells the amused cops that the boy is drunk and they had a lover's spat. Dahmer is allowed to take Khamtay home where he promptly strangles him.

A call from Jeffery's grandmother (Kate Williamson: DISCLOSURE, INTERVIEW WITH THE ASSASSIN) interrupts and Jeffery has to run over to grandma's house to help her get a crow out of the kitchen (The crow is listed in the credits as "Edgar Allen"). Dahmer lived with his grandmother for years and apparently had a good relationship with her.

The next victim is a young black man named Rodney (Artel Kayaru). The cat and mouse play between these two in Jeffery's apartment is broken up by a series of flashbacks and this is the bulk of the movie. In these flashbacks we see a variety of documented incidents in Dahmer's life, including the murder of his first victim when Dahmer was just out of high school.

Given the subject, there's surprisingly little gore. And no attempt is made to explain why Dahmer was what he was, although to be fair, there is no explanation. He wasn't abused as a child or any of the usual causes blamed for odd behavior. He was just a monster – no one knows why.

The movie does a good job of portraying portions of Dahmer's life, and the actor Jeremy Renner gives an excellent performance, but ultimately the film is a bit dull. It's too middle-of-the-road as far as choosing which way to go to tell this story. That's why I can only give it two shriek girls.

Shriek GirlsShriek Girls
This review copyright 2002 E.C.McMullen Jr.

Dahmer (2002) on IMDb
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