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A movie directed by David Jacobson

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Pre-Dahmer: Or, what happened to a young man

  • Nov 10, 2008
  • by
Three and a half stars, but I'm giving it the benefit of the doubt.

If you are looking for blood and murder, you won't find it here. There is one puddle of blood, a pretty tame drill bit, and one flashing, bloodless cavity exploration. This isn't a film about Dahmer's killing spree; it's a "Pre-Dahmer" exploration of a young man's transformation. And even then, sorry to say, it doesn't have the ring of accuracy to those who know psychology.

What 'Dahmer' does have is some surprisingly good acting from unknown talents. Jeremy Renner is especially good in his role of Jeffrey Dahmer, and kudos to Artel Kayaru, Matt Newton, Dion Basco and Bruce Davison. The film is artistically directed, well photographed, well edited, and makes good use of music/soundtrack and make-up effects. Overall, it's a very well done movie.

'Dhamer' covers Jeffrey's life prior to his 'splurge', so to speak. It's a development study. The script makes use of Dahmer's close run-in's with police that were blown off, like getting caught trying to return a victim to his house, getting caught drugging drinks in a gay bar, and an incident in his youth with a garbage bag in the back of his mothers car that *wasn't* grass clippings.

The movie makes strong use of flashbacks and scene-skips, but it works to an advantage on film. Jeremy Renner plays both younger and older Dahmer, and the make-up/photography is excellent in making this work on-screen. To some, the movie may seem paceless, but it's absorbing nonetheless. It did seem to end too soon, too much left out; but for the time frame of Dahmer's life it did a good job.

Some interesting notes of my own would be the writer's reference to the Christian cross as a torture device, like worshiping an electric chair or a guillotine. To a serial killer, this would make sense. It brings up interesting social issues for a young gay man, but I honestly don't credit Dahmer with having much debative intellect. Serial killers are normally creatures of immediate sensation, not debative thought. They live 'in the now' and often believe that other people are simply 'items' in their world and not beings with thought processes; like them. Others are a study, not a reality.

I strongly doubt Dahmer felt any revulsion the first time he cut, killed, dismembered, or ate any of his victims. It would have been merely interesting to him. In the real world, you can't use reason to reach unreasonable people. They cannot hear it.

All in all, I suggest renting before buying, and keep in mind its more of an artistic study than a horror movie. Enjoy!

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More Dahmer (2002 movie) reviews
review by . June 13, 2003
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: no     Cons: yes     The Bottom Line: _____________     As only Hollywood can, we have turned a psycho into a hero with the release of Dahmer. An independent release, they shot close to the shoestring budget and sometimes you can tell it, sometimes you overlook it, and sometimes they pull it off.      Interesting work was done with coloration, displaying a good deal of Dahmer’s apartment either with red painted …
review by . September 12, 2002
posted in Movie Hype
This is one of those strange films that people are afraid to say they have seen, that by showing interest in such a film will leave them permanently branded as deviant. Actually this exploration of the bizarre life of Jeffrey Dahmer is more an exploration of a mind descending into serial killing, mutilation, and cannibalization - a mind that just happened to be housed in a gay man- than it is a Hollywood Horror movie. Jeremy Renner surveys this tough role with all the little nuances that bring us …
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About this movie


Starring Jeremy Renner, Bruce Davison, Artel Kayaru, Matt Newton
Directed by David Jacobson
Writer:  David Jacobson

From The New Yorker
A docudrama about the man who "tried to create living zombies" that skirts the gory side of its appalling subject. The director, David Jacobson, relies on a time-shifting narrative: Jeffrey Dahmer's life is played as a fluid moment, with his past and present coexisting in monstrous harmony. Jeremy Renner plays the serial killer, and his performance gives a disturbing depth to the well-wrought scenes of alienation, parental bullying (Bruce Davison plays Dahmer's overbearing father), and murderous gratification. -Bruce Diones
Copyright © 2006 The New Yorker
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Director: David Jacobson
Genre: Action, Adventure
Release Date: June 21, 2002
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: David Birke, David Jacobson
DVD Release Date: August 27, 2002
Runtime: 1hr 40min
Studio: Blockbuster Films, PenĂ­nsula Films, First Look Pictures
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