Twisted, Frightening, but very much Sane

Dahmer (2002) by David Jacobson

Other films by David Jacobson: Criminal (1994), Down in the Valley (2005) 

I don’t remember how I’ve stumbled upon knowing this film. It’s true that Jeremy Renner had already impressed me with his acting in The Town and discovering that he was one of the main actors starring in the Academy Awards best picture winner, Hurt Locker. Those two facts were good reason for me to do research on him but if my blurry memory serves me right, I remember finding out about this film through the actual life story of Jeffrey Dahmer. I might have been searching for criminal minds back then and noticed Dahmer’s story to be frightening and utterly interesting. When I found out it a film had been influenced by his story, I quickly researched the film and knowing that Jeffrey Renner were starring the lead role, I just got very excited and didn’t spend much time downloading the film.

Before completely watching the film, I actually gave myself a sneak preview of the introduction and I was just in awe on how terrifying and realistic the film seemed to be. It blew me away turning it off knowing I would eventually watch the whole film in the near future once I find the perfect time for it. In simple words, the movie exceeded my expectations, not only in cinematography, and Renner’s acting, but the way it was compiled to tell the important content of the film. Dahmer is an anti-hero here.


Directing: The start made it look very simple and innocent looking. The music really did a good effect on this. The picture taking scene with the drugged Khamtay was classic material, it was really thrilling. I liked the editing and the camera angles they used very much. That scene with Dahmer and him on the couch creeps you out as if he was trying Khamtay out like a shirt. It frightens you how easily it could happen to you.

When they showed Khamtay waking up and that there was another victim beside him, it really shocks you regarding Dahmer’s twisted personality. He did not even bother hiding the body when he knew he had a visitor in his place. It is also very suspenseful when he witnessed Khamtay having escaped which neared his doom and gave Khamtay his salvation, but the scene was incredibly performed and was really interesting.

Minor flaw or missing piece is the lack of making the police interrogation scene more suspenseful and gut-wrenching. They could have showed how Dahmer would react about “cleaning” his place and being caught with a unconscious body in his room. Or how Khamtay could be shown struggling had to be fully conscious. Renner could act it, the music can match it, the directing was perfect for it. Too bad that kind of scene never came to be.

Dahmer’s twisted and freaky personality was highlighted when he revived Khamtay after he deliberately choked him to death. His reaction was haunting and it gave you a feeling that this man wants to control life, to control people as if it’s his own creation; his own monster.

The scene where he caged the bird inside a wooden chest was symbolic and how it brought a flashback of a very significant and thrilling event in his life was masterful. I really liked that following scene. It’s such a grippling scene how Dahmer’s parents were sneaking up on his secrets and were hinting closer and closer on discovering them. As a viewer, I felt like I was in the room with them.

The pot scene made the film seem normal for a while makes you empathise with Dahmer’s character as well and think how you meet “normal” people like him once in a while. The wrestling scene, however, was fucking hauntingly incredible and suspenseful.

The rebel conversation scene is a classical depiction of a conscious and rational serial killer. The first kill was realistic but I didn’t like how it was portrayed that marijuana could have triggered it. I’m not sure there’s evidence Dahmer did pot. It may actually involve more liquor. But that scene was indeed very realistic and it brings you inside a murderer’s head.

Plot: The plot and dialogue sounded very convincing. It starts out slow but eventually you notice how real these events can happen, especially the way Dahmer lured his victims. It can make you paranoid about being around strangers.

The plot had so much to offer and it did very well highlighting the events of Dahmer’s life and his opinions and personality. It allowed us to see the world inside the privacy of a serial killer. It’s so wonderfully crafted as if we are spying on him. Just pure genius.

I was expecting something queer to be revealed inside the chest during that scene where Dahmer’s dad wanted his son to open it. Maybe like women’s clothing, or pictures of naked boys, or even make up but it turning out to be a human head was shocking. Having that close call then going to church was again symbolic, it might have made me laugh at the twisted irony of it making me a believer; a god saving a killer.

Wow. The rape scene was incredibly unique and scintillating. I guess he gathered an addiction with how he stalks his prey and his modus operandi. It might have started there. People need their punishment.

The smoking pot scene showed how normal and down to earth Dahmer was. I enjoyed him as I would enjoy my friends, but the moment he started asking this homosexual questions with his sensual postures would also creep me out.

Characters/Acting: Jeremy Renner’s acting is spectacular from the start. His acting just looks so real and demented; as if he wasn’t in front of the camera and he was just left alone with his own vile nature. I give his acting here a know for nomination because I still think he can be better, and once we see that role, he’d belong to the top.

Score: The music suits the mood of the film really well. It’s haunting and I’m very impressed how underrated it was in the whole scheme of things in the film. It gave the film its own beating heart which was important for a thriller.

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