One of the worst claims to fame for Wisconsin is being home to two of America’s most notorious serial killers: Ed Gein and Jeffrey Dahmer. They are names and stories that most people in the state (and the world) know well.
Many of my journalism professor were in Milwaukee to cover Dahmer’s trial. Only a few weeks ago did Christopher Scarver (the man who murdered Dahmer in prison in 1994) came forward to talk about the incident. It really is so recent that it is still fresh in many people’s minds.
Like with many serial killers, there still remains an obsession with the mythos that surround someone who kills for pleasure. Dahmer is no exception. There are half a dozen movies and documentaries about the man. But only one motion picture has had any sort of impact: the 2002 snoozefest Dahmer starring Jeremy Renner.
This little film sets out to tell the story of Dahmer – only basing the narrative around three of his victims: his first, one of his most iconic and the last one that got away. Point one against the movie: he had over 17 victims and only alluding to a few takes away from the horror that the man truly was.
There is a scene where the two women trying to save Khamtay (which is the name given to victim Konerak Sinthasomphone in the film) when he escaped from Dahmer’s apartment. This is perhaps the most compelling part in the story – one of the few scenes that actually evokes fear or any type of emotion. The police ignore the pleading women and let the victim go back to Dahmer’s apartment, after he convinces the police that they are good friends.
As previously mentioned, several of my professors covered the case. It was one of them (whom I won’t name) that broke this story of the two women being ignored by the Milwaukee police. Though it wasn’t entirely accurate (the women who saw Konerak in fact knew him), it still acts as intense tension and creates a total feel of helplessness. Knowing that this part of the story was so real makes it even more heart breaking.
That being said, other than that one scene, this movie is utterly dull. Yes, a movie about one of the world’s most notorious serial killers is boring. Terrible movies are something I love, but this was a movie that clearly set out to do something great. It works in two timelines: one of the present moving forward to his arrest and another slowly working back in time until it reaches his first victim.
The strange timelines was a complete waste of time. While it reveals many of Dahmer’s problems and possible reasons for being so insane, it takes away all suspense entirely. Watching him attack his victims feels only uncomfortable, and not entirely disturbing like it should be.
Jeremy Renner is perfection. Unfortunately, the movie let down his performance as nothing else seems to live up to his acting. He demands the attention of the camera only with a demonic gaze. It someone did a supercut of just parts including him, the movie would be infinitely better.
If you have an interest in serial killers, skip this. Instead I recommend watching The Jeffrey Dahmer Files. Somehow this is one of those instances where the reality is so much more chilling than anything fiction could conjure. Dahmer sets out with good intentions but only ends up being as horrifying as day-old bakery.