See Through the Eyes of EVIL. “Dahmer” reviewed! (MVDVisual / Blu-ray)

On February 15th, 2992, Jeffrey Dahmer was convicted on murder, dismemberment, and sexual offenses on 17 young males.  Before then, Dahmer preyed on the desperate and the unsuspecting males living undisclosed in the then tabooed gay culture between 1978 and 1991.  Drugging, raping, killing, and then sometimes raping his victims posthumously became the Wisconsin serial killer’s unhinged obsession for companionship while working auspiciously as a chocolate factory warehouse worker.  Dahmer’s mind blossoms through the graphic dual prose narrative of events that circle around his lonely existence from a novice outcast drawn to kill to a calculating cold-blooded manhunter with deviant tendencies. 

Jeffrey Dahmer is one of those cerebral oddities you wish had a sight tube or a port hole to gape into and absorb the torrent of deranged thoughts in order to get a better understanding of how a serial killer’s mind functions and rationalizes vice and death as a sustainable life style.  Writer-director David Jacobson attempts to explain that very concept that sordid Dahmer’s visceral vision of the world around him in the 2002 interpretational blend of fact and fiction film, “Dahmer.”  Based on real events with some tweaks to protect the identities of real people, Jacobson’s crime biopic forces the uncomfortable measure of a bedeviled seduction, placing viewers in both the objective and subjective hot seat of Dahmer’s beginnings to his submersed praxis of his warped theoretical longings.  “Dahmer” is a production of a Peninsula Films, Inc., the same production company behind another serial killer biopic, Clive Saunders’ “Gacy,” a year later.

Surrounding the film, it’s been rumored that many actors don’t want anything to do with playing the titular sociopath; perhaps, Dahmer’s past scruples the filling of his size 10 shoes smeared with blood or, perhaps, exploring the dark caverns of his mind was too treacherous to traverse and come out unscathed from a crippling, crestfallen place of trauma.  Then, there’s Jeremy Renner.  Before his fame and fandom from “The Avengers” franchise, even before his breakout role in the pro-cop action blockbuster, SWAT, Jeremy Renner filled those monstrous size 10 shoes in the most quietest of ways, but the Hawkeye star’s skin-crawling version of a notorious killer he eerily takes a resemblance of provided that much more of a tactile insight into Dahmer’s inhuman nature.  Renner carries the film through two stages in Dahmer’s life, one being as an adolescent with homoerotic obsessions and deranged peculiarities whose living with his parents and grandmother while the other is paved by his own hands as an emotionless and manipulative rapist and murderer.  The distinct development is brilliantly illuminated by Renner’s understanding of Dahmer at certain stages of life.  Rounding out “Dahmer’s” cast is a fellow cinematic Marvel comics movie actor in Bruce Davison (“X-Men”) as Dahmer’s father, Lionel, Artel Great whose character is derived from real life Dahmer victim escapee, Tracey Edwards, and with Matt Newton, Dionysio Basco, and the late Kate Williamson adding their supportive performances.

Director David Jacobson didn’t want to explore and exploit the gory side of Jeffrey Dahmer’s tucked away carnage; instead, Jacobson dives into the psyche of Dahmer, molding human emotions around the sociopath who felt inadequate, if not also frightened, of his yearnings that propelled him to do the unspeakable acts of meticulous violence.  “Dahmer” obviously isn’t a true-to-fact biopic, regaling with colorful discourse and captivating with uncomfortable actions as filler to a near Hollywoodize stitching, but Jacobson did sprinkle with truth to fill in the mental gaps with interpretations of Dahmer’s connections with others, from family to victims.  Director of photography, Chris Manley, is able to capture the intensity with contrast lighting between young Dahmer and old Dahmer.  In Dahmer’s young life, the lighting is very natural, very bright, and very normal in a showcase of Dahmer’s mental space and, if we were not already enlightened about the serial killer’s, Dahmer would be just an usual misfit or a closeted homosexual with an obscure inkling to do more malevolency.  Only during scenes of mature Dahmer is the lighting saturated with hazy primary colors of blue, green, yellow, etc. that heighten madness and mark an ominous, dangerous presence inside the gay club or Dahmer’s apartment while everywhere else is in natural lighting.  A good companion piece to “Dahmer” is “My Friend Dahmer” directed by Marc Meyers that sought to visualize High Schooler Jeffrey Dahmer as an outlier spaz who desired attention to the point of making ruckuses in public places with other practical jokers and dived more into his obsession with eviscerating the local wildlife for curiosity and disolving them with his father’s chemistry concoctions, a nice little connective tissue between the two films. Watch Meyers’ “My Friend Dahmer” and Jacobson’s “Dahmer” in said order and while the two films are veritably different in style, each depiction captures a loner at heart with a minacious defense to feel, the very least, something by overpowering-to-death the unsuspecting prey.

Jeffrey Dahmer’s tactics were gruesome, perverse, and unsavory without question, but David Jacobson attempts the impossible of detaching the human from the monster in “Dahmer” that’s now being distributed onto Blu-ray by FilmRise and MVDVisual under their Marquee Collection. The High-Def, 1080p picture is presented in a widescreen, 1.85:1 aspect ratio, from the original 35mm negative film. While the upscaling looks fairly well achieved that seizes to put more life into the coloring, especially with those rich colorful shots in Dahmer’s later years, a good portion of 35mm negative sheens through with hairline scratches and the occasional blip of a cigarette burn. The overall delineation renders nicely with little-to-not soft edges and there doesn’t seem to be any cropping or edge enhancing. The English language DTS 5.1 Surround sound is as equally competent with clarity throughout the vocal track. There was too much depth or range to paint a picture, gaining a win by default with the conversing being held in tightly packed rooms or in extreme closeups of conversating duos. The musical score by Christina Agamanolis, Mariana Bernoski, and Willow Williamson haunts mostly like the caressing sounds of viper’s mellifluous tongue with breathy moans, irregular percussions, and a whisking uneasiness tune that sinks its teeth into you. The soundtrack is mixed with some monotonous club beats, doo-wop, and soft and classical alternative rock that include Patsy Cline, Gladys Knight and the Pips, and Freddie Cannon. Bonus materials are a little antiquated with a making of featurette from back when the film was closer being first released, a behind-the-scenes photo gallery, story boards, a red band and theatrical trailer, and an audio commentary by director David Jacobson and actors Jeremy Renner and Artel Kayaru. “Dahmer” doesn’t need to sell us on the diabolical nature of Jeffrey Dahmer, but what the film does do is formulate a systemic idea of who Dahmer disposes to be, as a loner, as a sufferer, and as a killer, underneath the skin of an average young white male.

Order “Dahmer” on Blu-ray!

Become Evil’s Best Bud in “My Friend Dahmer” review!


Senior year 1978, right before the start of his 13 year killing spree, Jeffrey Dahmer struggled to fit into the high school equation. Spending much of the time in his makeshift laboratory, dipping roadkill into jars of acid to retrieve the bones that were still intact, Dahmer didn’t have many friends to socialize his unbalanced behavior. His interest in dissecting animals and an unearthed fascination with the same sex drove him to stay in serene isolation, but when his parents, between the marital spouts and his father’s projections, pressure him to make friends, to live an active lifestyle, Dahmer reduces himself to being the class clown for acceptance, catching the attention of three students who befriend him because of his classless antics. Just as his life begins to form something that similar normalcy, the familiar urges overwhelm when he fantasizes about a young male doctor of sleeping with his fresh corpse. With the inkling to kill creeping to ahead, Dahmer drowns himself in alcohol while still maintaining what’s left of his friendship that suddenly feels more like his exploitation for the benefit of others.

What a hell of an origins story! “My Friend Dahmer” is the 2017 biographical docudrama from writer-director Marc Meyers that becomes the looking glass into the catalytic events, or even last moments of hope to reform, infamous serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. The film is a visual adaptation of John “Derf” Backderf’s graphic novel of the title. Backderf was also one of Dahmer’s only friends in high school and relates his experiences through exaggerated illustrations of his graphic novel. With in the film, Meyers notably recounts the pages of the Backderf’s novel with a story that puts Dahmer justifiably at the epicenter that focuses almost entirely from Dahmer’s disturbed and warped point of view of inner body interest, homosexuality, and standards of social acceptance. Rarely, does Meyers stray from that structure in obtaining the external thoughts and opinions of Dahmer’s friends, and perhaps even enemies, who’ve made some sort of interaction, but being that the novel is a work of someone else’s non-fictional perceptions and not of Dahmer’s, Meyers puts weight forthright with Backderf’s opinion with the characterized Backderf interjecting here-and-there on accounts that significantly courses Dahmer’s actions.

Surely an eye brow raising casting choice, Disney Channel actor and Kids’ Choice Award winner Ross Lynch enters into a polarizing role that is the pre-monster of Jeffrey Dahmer and creepily channels in a powerful performance the embattled younger image of the soon-to-be murderer, cannibal, and necrophiliac. Lynch portrays Dahmer as a rare emission of emotion and almost frighteningly stiff or mechanically with hunched shoulders just below his wavy blonde hair that wrap around the large and rounded rectangle glasses. New York City born actor Alex Wolff picks up the graphite pencil to spun out probably Dahmer’s closest friend John “Derf” Backderf. Perhaps in a way, Backderf had manufactured a piece of Dahmer’s destined genetic makeup and Wolff lays in the guilt, and the fear, thick when around Dahmer near the end. Anne Heche (“Psycho” remake) and Dallas Roberts (“The Walking Dead” and “Mayhem”) become Joyce and Lionel Dahmer, Jeffrey’s parents. Heche and Roberts seize every on screen opportunity to lay into one another, a persistent and regular difficulty that stemmed between Joyce’s mental and physical heath and Lionel’s withering patience for his anxiety riddled wife. The cast rounds out with Vincent Kartheiser Liam Koeth, Tommy Nelson, and Harrison Holzer.

Aside from the retelling of Backderf’s recollections, “My Friend Dahmer” shoots scenes right inside what was once Dahmer’s actual home in Ohio. That bit of realism adds monumental flavor to enrich the inherently dark subject matter of how a young Dahmer was subjected to compounding blows to his psyche in the short timespan that was his senior year. From his father tearing down his makeshift laboratory and junking his precious dead animal experiments, to his mother’s divorce inducing schizophrenia, and to being the class clown in order to make friends, Dahmer couldn’t maintain control over his ebb and flow urges and Meyer effectively highlights these chapters in Dahmer’s frayed playbook of life that tipped the scales of unfavorable malice.

FilmRise and MVDVisual present “My Friend Dahmer” on a AVC encoded 1080p High Definition Blu-ray with a 2.40:1, widescreen presentation. Through a vista of small town quaintness, picture quality immensely defines a cold embrace of a softer, fluffier effect. The color palette strongly reflects the whitewashed and faded of the era. The English Dolby Digital 5.1 stretches the ambient with a film that doesn’t necessary pack an audio punch. The dialogue is rendered cleanly and the retro soundtrack is a boost to docudrama with clarity and pace. Bonus features are a bit thin for a non-fictional individual with humungous notoriety and they include a brief interview with star Ross Lynch, Behind-the-Scenes slide show, and a theatrical trailer. “My Friend Dahmer” revitalizes the feelings and the chills that washed over us who are old enough to remember Jeffrey Dahmer’s grim-storied apprehension and, yet, director Marc Meyers is able to strip Dahmer of his monstrosity for 107 minutes and make him simply human as a young man with everyday problems without a ounce of parental, professional, or friendship guidance, funneling to the notion that we all have a little Jeffrey Dahmer in us.

“My Friend Dahmer” is on the Amazon today!