My Friend Dahmer (film)
|My Friend Dahmer|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Marc Meyers|
|Screenplay by||Marc Meyers|
|Based on||My Friend Dahmer|
by Derf Backderf
|Music by||Andrew Hollander|
|Edited by||Jamie Kirkpatrick|
|Box office||$1.4 million|
My Friend Dahmer is a 2017 American biographical drama film written and directed by Marc Meyers about the American serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. It is based on the 2012 graphic novel of the same name by cartoonist John "Derf" Backderf, who had been friends with Dahmer in high school in the 1970s, until the time Dahmer began his killing spree. The film stars Ross Lynch as Dahmer, and also stars Alex Wolff, Dallas Roberts, and Anne Heche.
In 1974, Jeffrey Dahmer is a high school freshman living in Bath, Ohio, with his parents, Lionel and Joyce, and his little brother, Dave. Jeffrey develops an obsession with a male jogger whom he sees every day from his school bus. For a hobby, Jeffrey collects dead animals that he dissolves to the bones using chemicals provided by his father, who is a chemist. This hobby is initiated by his obsessive interest in how animals are "fitted together".
In 1978, Lionel trashes Jeffrey's collection of bones and orders him to make friends at school. During school, Jeffrey imitates spasms, clears his backpack, and makes loud noises, catching the attention of aspiring artist John "Derf" Backderf and his friends. Jeffrey inspires Derf to draw him in various situations; drawings that would later form Derf's graphic novel My Friend Dahmer. Derf and his friends form the "Dahmer Fan Club," using Jeffrey for a variety of pranks such as sneaking him in every club yearbook photo, and conning their way to a meeting with then Vice President Walter Mondale during a school field trip to Washington, D.C.
Meanwhile, Joyce starts relapsing into chronic mental illness, leading to increasingly bitter fights between her and Lionel. To cope, Jeffrey turns to drinking heavily, and begins killing animals himself.
The jogger with whom Jeffrey is obsessed turns out to be Dr. Matthews, the physician of one of Derf's friends. Jeffrey fakes a cold so that he can get an appointment with him, and he can examine Jeffrey naked. Dr. Matthews becomes uncomfortable during the hernia exam when he notices that Jeffrey has an erection. When Jeffrey returns home, he retires to his room and masturbates to the incident. The following night, Jeffrey fantasizes about being with Dr. Matthews' corpse. He starts stalking Dr. Matthews with a baseball bat, but never goes through with attacking him.
Jeffrey's father moves out while Jeffrey is away on the field trip. After the trip, Jeffrey makes some attempts to stay connected to his friends such as bringing a date to the prom, but ultimately drifts away from them. At graduation, Lionel hands Jeffrey the keys to the family Volkswagen Beetle which he would later use to commit his first murder. Unbeknownst to Lionel, Joyce leaves Ohio to live with relatives in Wisconsin, taking Dave with her and leaving Jeffrey completely alone.
That evening, Derf spots Jeffrey walking home alone, with blood on his fingernails. Derf offers a ride to Jeffrey, finding him living alone with no plans for the future. Derf tells him that he is leaving for college the following day and offers him his drawings of Jeffrey, which he declines. He menacingly invites Derf inside for a beer, but Derf turns him down. As Derf walks back to his car, Jeffrey picks up a baseball bat and is about to strike him with it, although he later puts it down. As Derf gets in the car and drives home, he notices the bat. Jeffrey never has contact with his high school friends again. The next morning, Jeffrey drives around and picks up hitchhiker Steven Hicks from a concert. The closing credits note that Hicks was never seen again, and that Jeffrey Dahmer admitted to killing 17 men when he was finally arrested.
- Ross Lynch as Jeffrey Dahmer, Lionel and Joyce's son, who has obsessive fantasies of rape, cannibalism, and necrophilia.
- Alex Wolff as John "Derf" Backderf, Dahmer's closest friend and an aspiring graphic artist
- Vincent Kartheiser as Dr. Matthews
- Anne Heche as Joyce Dahmer, Lionel's wife and Jeffrey's mother
- Dallas Roberts as Lionel Dahmer, Joyce's husband and Jeffrey's father
- Tommy Nelson as Neil, one of Dahmer and Backderf's friends
- Harrison Holzer as Mike, one of Dahmer and Backderf's friends
The script appeared on 2014's Black List.
Ross Lynch was cast as the teenage Dahmer in 2016. Lynch had previously been employed as a teen actor by the Disney Channel, most notably starring in the show Austin & Ally. John Backderf, the author of the graphic novel, was enthusiastic about this casting against type, stating that Lynch's performance would make viewers "uncomfortable because it's so familiar". Later in the month Alex Wolff, Vincent Kartheiser and Anne Heche joined the cast, with Heche playing Dahmer's mother.
Filming took place in Bath, Ohio and Middleburg Heights, Ohio. This movie was recorded at Jeffrey Dahmer’s actual childhood home in Ohio. Actors in the movie said that it was very strange to be in the home where the serial killer lived. They also mentioned that the house is where Dahmer's mental disturbances and childhood struggles began.
My Friend Dahmer premiered at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival on April 21, 2017. On May 15, 2017, FilmRise acquired distribution rights to the film, planning to release it in the fall. The film was released in limited theaters on November 3, 2017, with a wider release the following month.
On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an 86% rating based on 88 reviews, with an average rating of 7/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "My Friend Dahmer opens a window into the making of a serial killer whose conclusions are as empathetic as they are deeply troubling." Metacritic, another review aggregator, assigned the film a weighted average score of 68 out of 100, based on 25 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
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