Good effort, fine acting...
R. Gawlitta | Milwaukee, Wisconsin USA | 09/13/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I am a resident of Milwaukee, and remember very well the shock and awe of the Dahmer discoveries. For this reason, and that it received some prestigious nominations at the Indie Spirit awards, I was compelled to rent it. Indeed, the performances are fine, including those nominated actors Jeremy Ronner (Jeff) and Artel Kayaru (Rodney). Director David Jacobson wanted to explore the mind of a serial killer without gore or blood, and he is to be commended. His attempt to humanize Dahmer is admirable, though the film lacks focus. As I know it, Dahmer was diabolical in his methods, a lot more than the film shows. He had vats of acid in his apartment to aid in his disposal of bodies. The film left off at a time when his killing spree was at its peak (hoping for a sequel?), and there was no indication of his capture and trial and eventual incarceration on charges of mental instability (Duh). NOTE: The smell in the apt buiding was so bad, they finally tore it down. As an Indie, it was fine in handling this atrocious subject with dignity and true quality. As history, you can only be left baffled and confused. One of his victims, Joe Bradehoff, was my friend. I can understand why he might've been taken in by Dahmer's charm and smarm; Dahmer was a lot more good-looking than Mr. Renner. It's enough to give gay people a bad name. God forbid!"
A Probing Examination of the Descent of a Sick Mind
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 10/10/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"David Jacobson wrote (with David Birke) and directed this probing psychological study of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. It is an extraordinarily fine film on every level, not the least of which is the manner in which Jacobson elected to dissect the slowly rotting mind of an avatar (as in the incarnation of evil) model of alienation, profound loneliness, and victim of sexual frustration that eventually explodes into the heinous results of those unrecognized symptoms. It is a masterpiece of understatement, not straying away from the horror of the idea of what is happening, but at the same time not relying on the graphic depictions that so many film on similar subjects stoop to in order to attract audiences. The Dahmer of Jacobson's vision is a lonely youth, a man who craves attention and affection of others but must resort to drugs and violence to reach his goals of partnering with a fellow human being, a coming together that though the means are abominable the end result is an expression of tenderness that few films have been able to reveal.
Much of the success of this superb film is due to the acting of Jeremy Renner as Dahmer. He has created a character whose shy and desperate needs progress until he is able to achieve his obsession of feeling affection from others. The scenes in the bars where he repeatedly dances with attractive men, drugs their drinks, and then helps them to the back rooms where, comatose, they become his lovers for the moment (so very subtly suggested by the fine cinematography technique of strobe lighting momentary glimmers by Chris Manley with the able assistance of editor Biasha Shom). So much of the seduction and actually killing is left to the viewer's imagination that it is only with three encounters - played with virtuosity by Artel Kayàru, Matt Newton, and Dion Basco - that include the verbal interplay that reveal Dahmer's submerged yet profound needs and frustrations. Jacobson's use of flashbacks to Dahmer's experiences that fed his inability to relate to feelings that were denied him by society spare us also of witnessing all of the murders and associated atrocities that Dahmer committed, and in the end that technique helps us understand how a boy to man can alter in the direction of maturation to become one of the most famous serial killers of our time. (FACTS: Jeffrey Lionel Dahmer (May 21, 1960 - November 28, 1994) was an American serial killer and sex offender. Dahmer murdered 17 men and boys - many of whom were of African or Asian descent - between 1978 and 1991, with the majority of the murders occurring between 1987 and 1991. His murders were particularly gruesome, involving rape, torture, dismemberment, necrophilia and cannibalism. On November 28, 1994, he was beaten to death by an inmate at the Columbia Correctional Institution, where he had been incarcerated.)
Made in 2002 and garnering many Indie awards, it is amazing that this film was not taken more seriously by the public. Perhaps the immaturity of the audience prevented those who usually flock to the blood and slaughter films of the 'Saw' series, 'Freddy Krueger' films, etc from accepting this story as a true one, not a festival of CGI effects. Jeremy Renner is now recognized as one of our leading actors: perhaps this film should be released again so that audiences can appreciate the masterful degree of his acting skills. Grady Harp, October 10"