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A movie directed by David Jacobson

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  • Jun 13, 2003
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 walls and accessories or red lighting. This same effect was used in the bar scenes when Dahmer makes his scores by drugging young men and raping them in the private rooms in the back of the bar. After a while it became tiresome and you simply expected the red scenes to be there. A case of too much of a good thing syndrome.

The director & writer did leave out the gruesome details of the murders and ‘storage’ facilities that Dahmer was noted for, in fact, skirted right over the issue entirely. Only once did you find a reference to a past lover, the black man lying on the bed during all the scenes with the Asian character.

Quite unlike The Secret Life blah blah blah where they go right for it and even show Dahmer trying to stuff a large black man in a 55 gallon drum full of acid. While I'm thinking about that, if you decide to watch that horrible movie, how did he do that without displacing the liquid in the container with the size of the human and not have spillage? .... sorry .... drifted for a moment.

The movie attempted to rationalize the behavior of this man. While not completely explaining or accepting that the reason behind his hedonistic actions falls into the gray area of child neglect/abuse, alcoholism, and drug addiction they leave you assuming this is so. A passive mother, doting grandmother and domineering father was suggested and passed over at the same time.

Speaking of fathers, Bruce Davison played the father in this release. Talk about a milquetoast. Sorry but guess the budget was too tight for a real actor.

It is filmed in a series of flashbacks that overlap the current life of Dahmer. You are supposed to know this because either:
1) his clothing style changed,
2) his hairstyle changed or
3) he was clean shaven or scruffy faced.

Other than that you are left wondering just exactly what is going on as they flit from one era of his life to another. The filming aspect of this is so disjointed that it often leaves you confused. No explanation is given that in one scene he enters his bedroom as an adult, exits as a teen, then passes into the living room as a young man. You just are assumed to realize this because of one of the 3 reasons above.

At one stage, he is waiting for his latest conquest outside a bar when you suddenly see him enter a bar and score with another young man. You assume he has given up on the original person and moved on. Silly you, this scene, or rather conquest, was in the past and he was just reliving it as he waited. This is how the thrust of the entire movie goes, jumping from age sequence to age sequence with no explanation.

The actor played the part of Dahmer has to be given thumbs up. His mild mannered, little boy face and attitude hid a cold and calculating mind. Although he must be totally insane, his actions do not speak this way. Instead his preparations speak volumes of careful planning and diligent detail work. Perhaps, toward the end before his capture, he was slipping beyond his control point. Irregardless, even though we was obviously insane he was also highly intelligent.

Jeremy Renner moves right inside the mindset of Dahmer. Playful at times, cunning at times, secrets hidden behind his own calming eyes. He was nominated for Best Male Lead from Independent Spirits.

I watched it one time and then watched it again with the commentary by the director/actors turned on the DVD. I must say, it seems they are a sel-serving bunch of people. I didn’t enjoy the commentary section on this movie at all. The entire thing consisted of ‘aren’t we the greatest’ accolades, pretty pitiful if you ask me.

Artel Kayàru, who played Rodney - one of the conquests that got away - was all about 'me', 'me', 'me' on the commentary section. He would say - "Oh, look at the expression on my face" and "I really think I took the scene here".

Another thing they kept stressing was the - 'I didn't mind playing the part but I'M NOT gay' thing. Artel Kayàru even commented on the love scene between Rodney & Dahmer while it was being shown as 'This was just disgusting but look how fine I'm doing the job, anyone would want me'.

I don’t mind if the actors reveal a little of what they were feeling during a certain scene, like they did on the commentary of Session 9, but these fools were chatting among themselves, paying little attention to the scene being portrayed before them. It was interesting to learn that the teen years of Dahmer were shot in the directors parents home [talk about a tight budget] and he did say afterward he had trouble eating in the kitchen again - smile.

Even with all the negative comments I’ve made though, I do suggest you catch this movie. It is an interesting look, albeit totally fictional, inside the mind of a serial killer. Maybe each of us isn’t that far from the edge after all.



Suitability For Children: Not suitable for Children of any age

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More Dahmer (2002 movie) reviews
review by . November 10, 2008
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' …
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, Península Films, First Look Pictures
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