Wednesday, June 21, 2017

My Friend Dahmer

My Friend Dahmer, dir. Marc Meyers, 2017 USA, 107 min. 👏
Tuesday, June 20, 9:15 p.m., Castro Theatre: Bay Area première
Ross Lynch (center) is My Friend Dahmer
Jeffrey Dahmer is one of the most notorious serial killers in American history, having confessed to the murder of 17 young men and boys. The film My Friend Dahmer, based on the graphic novel of the same title written by Dahmer’s friend Derf, portrays Dahmer’s high school years, including the disintegration of his parents’ marriage, his deep-seated interest in animal corpses, and his fitful efforts at finding friends. It is downright chilling that Dahmer comes across mostly as mildly eccentric with only scant signs of how much deeper his dysfunctions ran.

Dahmer is played by recent Disney Channel alumnus Ross Lynch, who demonstrates a remarkable range as an actor, moving from the cotton candy fluff of Austin and Ally and Teen Beach Movie to material much darker and more complex. Oddly, there are a couple of other former teen idols in the cast: Derf is played by Alex Wolff, formerly of the Naked Brothers Band, and the local doctor is played by Vincent Kartheiser, who graced teen magazines of the 1990s before moving on to stuff like Mad Men. You’d be hard pressed, though, to imagine this incarnation on the cover of Tiger Beat.

Lynch inhabits the future serial killer with subtle physical touches like the deadpan facial expression and hunched shoulders, giving a human realness to a boy on the brink of manhood, but also on the brink of losing his humanity entirely. Even knowing that Dahmer goes on to multiple vicious sociopathic murders, it’s difficult not to feel some sympathy for the socially awkward teen on screen. The more disturbing side of Dahmer peeks out only briefly in a few scenes. I can’t say that I hope Ross Lynch plays more serial killers in the future, but he has clearly established his cred as a serious actor for whatever not-Disney throws at him next. Highly recommended.

IMDb pagetrailer • Twitter: @MFDTheMovie

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