Portrait of a Serial Killer

The makers of Dahmer try their best to avoid sensationalism

A story of a somewhat troubled young man, who, heavily closeted and socially awkward, took to picking up younger males, drugging them, killing them, then fucking the corpses, chopping them up and sometimes eating them. Cutting back and forth in time between Jeffrey Dahmer's life of crime and his late adolescence, writer-director David Jacobson does his best to avoid onscreen sensationalism. (He ends the film just when things are going to get really disgusting.) Star Jeremy Renner seems shorter than Dahmer but is otherwise a look-alike and gives a convincingly intense and weird performance. Bruce Davison (as Papa Dahmer) and the rest of the cast also do nice work. The often-deadpan style seems inspired by Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, without ever reaching that film's level of horror. An over-the-top comic approach, à la Eating Raoul, might have made more sense. Then Jacobson could have staged a limb-eating contest between the titular character and the rotund Mr. DeLuise and called the whole thing Dom and Dahmer.

 
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