Perhaps what is most distubring about Marc Meyers’ film My Friend Dahmer, based on a graphic novel by Derf Backderf, is how non-disturbing the film seems. It’s certainly not a humanistic portrayal of Jeffrey Dahmer, but it is vaguely unthreatening. For example, the ending of the film is bathed in uncertainty, with a title card masking the grisly details. In the film, glances of Dahmer’s mental state are provided, with a cast consisting of Vincent Kartheiser as a doctor, (almost unrecognizable, and certainly far away from Pete Campbell) and Anne Heche as Dahmer’s mother, wonderful as always but buried under a mountain of hair and twangy.
It’s the lead performance of Ross Lynch as Dahmer which is the lynchpin of the film. Meyers offers slow direction, often focusing upon sunlight and long scenes of driving or walking. In addition, another former Disney star, Alex Wolff, is his friend Derf. Even though he bears witness, the film belongs to attempting to capture something of Dahmer other than serial killer (or decent man), falling somewhere in the middle. This aspect, the middle, is where the fear resides.