MY FRIEND DAHMER (2017) Reviews and overview

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My Friend Dahmer is a 2017 American film written and directed by Marc Meyers and based on the graphic novel of the same name by artist John “Derf” Backderf who wrote about his true-life experience growing up with future serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer.

Before Jeffrey Dahmer became one of the most notorious serial killers of all time, he was a teenage loner. Conducting grisly experiments in a makeshift backyard lab, Jeff was invisible to most, until his increasingly bizarre behaviour unexpectedly attracted friends…

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“By disassociating Dahmer from the crimes he would commit, his character is shaped as a pitiably sad personality instead of a purely vile being. My Friend Dahmer doesn’t dismiss the man he became, nor does it beg for “poor Jeff” sympathy.  Rather, the plea is to consider how he was created through conscious choice as well as troubling circumstances, and how common those conditions could be.” Ian Sedensky, Culture Crypt

“One of my biggest issue with the film is the frequent use of humour. It’s usually a good thing when dark films pepper humour throughout to lighten the mood, but in the case of My Friend Dahmer, it is so uncomfortably frequent to a point that it is seen in bad taste […] a compelling enough story, with a career-defining, award-worthy performance from Ross Lynch making up for a majority of it’s issues.” Daniel Azbel, Get Reel Movies

“There aren’t many movies about real-life serial killers, and there are even less that try to humanize them to the extent that My Friend Dahmer does. Without trying to coddle, without trying to excuse, Meyers’ makes us realize that even a demon like Dahmer was a boy once and wonder if things could have turned out differently for him.” Reggie Peralta, FilmBook

“Avoiding both sympathy, sentimentality, or hype, director Marc Meyers takes on a more ambitious task. Knowing who he grows up to be adds a level of terror that’s often nearly impossible to capture, so Meyers focuses on Dahmer’s psyche over trying to ham up his violent acts. The scares come more from the growing tension of understanding who he is going to become when he graduates as it gets closer to the end…” Ivy Lofberg, Sordid Cinema

My Friend Dahmer is a well-balanced meal; there are side portions of humor and horror that compliment the bloody, meaty steak of the character’s future. It will remind you of a story you’ve seen before – the potential danger in a troubled teen – but with a harrowing reality you can’t avoid.” Kelly McNeely,

“Meyers recreates Dahmer’s world so wholly that you don’t leave with questions even if the big one remains purposely unanswered. There is nothing in this expertly-drawn character study that attempts to solve the mystery of Jeffrey Dahmer, because life rarely hands us those answers.” Scout Tafoya,

” …there does remain a “nothing really happens” quality about the flick which might be hard for some to overlook. All in all though, My Friend Dahmer is a thoughtfully scripted, deftly directed, handsomely photographed, admirably acted take on the making of a murderer.” Jake Dee, Arrow in the Head

Cast and characters:

  • Ross Lynch as Jeffrey Dahmer
  • Alex Wolff as Derf
  • Vincent Kartheiser as Doctor Matthews
  • Anne Heche as Joyce Dahmer
  • Dallas Roberts as Lionel Dahmer
  • Harrison Holzer as Mike
  • Tommy Nelson as Neil
  • Miles Robbins as Figg

Filming locations:

Akron and Cleveland, Ohio, USA


The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 21, 2017.

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