Sunday, June 25, 2017

Dahmer Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: A look inside the dark mind of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer.

Review: I've mentioned before that "Dahmer" is probably the closest thing we have to a true, visceral glimpse inside the mind of a killer. Although this film takes certain liberties with its depiction of Dahmer, it never tries to justify his actions or make him sympathetic. Furthermore, the film does not glamorize his life either. Instead, the filmmakers opt to depict the unhinged nature of a man living an extremely mundane life and his homicidal tendencies. It's also important to note that Dahmer's cannibalism is completely left out of the film for whatever reason. It would have been nice if the narrative was structured more like a biography, but, instead, we get the events leading up to Dahmer's capture intermixed with various flashbacks demonstrating his complete descent into serial killer. Needless to say, the film is disturbing in numerous ways.

The main aspect that will engage the viewer is Jeremy Renner's unsettling performance. He appears at one with the "character," and this is the definitive role I imagine for him. Mr. Renner has that right level of charm and wickedness to properly bring Dahmer to life. However, the other aspect pulling this movie together is the dingy atmosphere and cinematography. The dimly lit rooms, various color filters, and odd closeups create a surreal perspective that we can extrapolate as Dahmer's view of the world. There is certainly a layer of pretentiousness to the production, but, for the most part, the film plays it straightforward with mere artistic decisions to enhance the scenes; that I can forgive and appreciate. Lastly, the score is quite simple in arrangement yet incredibly effective with establishing the mood. There are a few real songs, but the original soundtrack is that right level of dark ambiance I naturally envision for this kind of story.

What hurts the film is the general sense of aimlessness. I detect hesitation by the director in how to approach Dahmer's life. For example, setting the events toward Dahmer's capture works yet we do not actually see his capture. What is the point then? The flashbacks work perfectly fine and add a layer of depth to explore, however, why choose these moments specifically? Do they truly demonstrate Dahmer's nature? That remains to be seen. The scenes are strung together coherently enough, however, there is something amiss that is hard to explain. Better transition shots were needed perhaps? I still feel as though no film fully brings that evil of a serial killer to life. And maybe we shouldn't in an instance like this where filmmakers are using a real life person with real victims.

It's tough to recommend a movie like this since it's not fiction but it sort of is at the same time. I'd actually want to see a film in this style but with a fictional character to really take in a dark and disturbing direction. As it stands, "Dahmer" provides a tale that would be best described as intriguing. For a normal person to wrap their mind around the thinking of a serial killer is more difficult than you'd imagine. This film is probably the closest I've seen to bringing that darkness to life despite amending certain aspects to the real killer--for easier consumption on the viewer's behalf I'm assuming. If you're a fan of Jeremy Renner then this is a must-watch, however, be aware that this film is an acquired taste without a doubt. Now, bear in mind that I'm not insinuating that "Dahmer" is some kind of balls to walls splatterfest--far from it--I'm simply trying to explain that this is art house meets the mind of a killer with a super slow pace. If your interest is piqued then I think you'll be pleased, but if the subject matter rubs you wrong out the gate, then it's best to avoid outright.

Notable Moment: When Dahmer is roaming around the woods hitting everything in sight. It's simple yet effective in its manner of conveying the uncontrollable rage of a killer. Another tiny scene that strikes me is Dahmer just staring at a doorknob to a therapist's office while the camera zooms in. I like these kind of lingering shots since they typically say a lot more than dialogue can.

Final Rating: 6/10

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