Facts and Figures

Run time: 101 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 13th March 2003

Distributed by: Peninsula Films


Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 68%
Fresh: 26 Rotten: 12

IMDB: 5.6 / 10

Cast & Crew



Starring: as Jeffrey Dahmer, as Lionel Dahmer, Artel Great as Rodney, as Grandma

Dahmer Review

David Jacobson brings his fascination with serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer to the big screen in this impressive but occasionally wandering biopic. Dahmer wisely avoids turning its antihero (played gamely by Jeremy Renner) into a monster, treating him like any other troubled twentysomething with problems at home and at work. Jacobson doesn't put the blame on Dahmer's mildly oppressive father (Bruce Davison) -- in fact, we're given almost no motivation for his crimes at all, except that the guy is basically insane.

And oh -- the crimes. Although Jacobson again keeps most of the gore off-camera, Dahmer's attempts at zombifying his random victims, severing their extremities, and practicing various forms of execution are eye-opening enough to make you want to avert your gaze. Is it because the story is true that it's so disturbing? The movie was shot largely in Milwuakee, on the very street where Dahmer lived and did his deeds. However, the movie goes a little light with some of the facts -- in an attempt to humanize the man, we don't see his attempts at cannibalism or the large vat in which he decomposed his victims. We also don't see him get caught; the movie ends with Jeffrey just wandering into the forest.

Renner, last seen in the dismal Fish in a Barrel, redeems himself and carries much of the film with a creepy and dead-on performance. Renner doesn't play the character for chills or for pity, he just presents Dahmer as a man who happened to enjoy murdering his friends and playing with their corpses. Take it or leave it.

Unfortunately, while the first half of the film is fascinating, the latter half dies on the vine as we get more involved with Dahmer's various murders and his characterization stagnates. At the same time, the murders never get any more terrifying -- and as I mentioned, he never gets caught -- so we feel like we're seeing the same thing over and over again. It's a solid effort in the end, though, and certainly an admirable indie in an otherwise weak year.