“My Friend Dahmer” allowed audience members the brain-bending experience of walking alongside the Milwaukee Cannibal during his teenage years, on his path to becoming a serial killer.
Actors Ross Lynch as Jeffrey Dahmer and Alex Wolff as John “Derf” Backderf starred in the film adaptation of Backderf’s graphic novel. Director Marc Meyers did nothing less than bring the graphic novel to life in his recreation of the sad and haunting story.
The coming-of-age horror story pulled at my heartstrings, took my breath away and left me speechless at the end.
If you want to be psychologically torn between what you know is right and wrong, this movie will provide that opportunity to you.
Based off of the early life of Dahmer, an American serial killer who murdered 17 men and boys between 1978 and 1991 in Ohio, the movie called the audience to sympathize and potentially relate to Dahmer’s broken home and social struggles.
The film took me on a rollercoaster of internal emotions. I wanted to feel bad for Dahmer but knew he was a serial killer, and the thought of feeling sympathy for someone I knew would turn out to be a killer made me feel physically dirty and wrong.
“My Friend Dahmer” excellently evoked emotions from the audience. I was left walking out of the theater late at night mind-blown, speechless and incredibly aware of my surroundings.
Dahmer was made into a character so relatable and seemingly average, that at the end of the film, I was scared of the other audience members and their unknown intentions — I was even ever-so slightly-questioning of my movie-partner as I walked outside to my car. This scared feeling, I later came to find out, was one we both shared.
The most horrifying thing about the movie was its revelation that above-average circumstances are not required to mold a person into a killer.
It exposed this through the vivid recreation of young Dahmer’s broken home and by following Dahmer through high school, where he was bullied.
The film pushes viewers to take the serial killer’s side and root for him as he finds peace within himself and discovers the one thing that can make him happy: seeing the “insides” of animals and eventually, of humans.
As well as horrific, the movie was often tense and funny at moments. But mostly the film was just sad, as the audience already knew that Dahmer couldn’t be saved from becoming a killer.
For a mind-blowing theater experience and new discoveries about empathy, “My Friend Dahmer” is worth the watch.
Timber Mabes is a culture reporter with the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @timbermabes.