One of Jeremy Renner‘s earlier films I don’t feel the need to apologize for watching. After viewing Monkey Love and Fish in a Barrel I was wondering at what point did Renner go from cute but not deep to serious actor. The transition definitely occurred here with Dahmer.
This semi-biopic feature is, of course, about notorious serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. Not a very far reaching movie and probably chock full of dramatic license, we are treated to vignettes of Dahmer’s teen years, his first murder, several other murders and his interaction with his family. I don’t know a lot about Dahmer so although I know some parts are true from news stories, I can’t tell you how much is real and how much is Hollywood. But the overall tone of the movie is set not to gross you out but make you terribly uneasy.
There is one thing that Jeremy Renner can play well and that is damaged people. See Neo Ned and Twelve and Holding for good examples. Renner’s portrayal of Dahmer is creepy for reasons other than it’s Jeffrey Dahmer, serial killer cannibal. Renner portrays him in a way that you can’t just hate him, you feel sorry for him and dare I say seduced by him as well. He’s easy going manner just pulls you in and then you feel like you need a shower afterwards because despite all that happened to him Dahmer was still a monster.
You don’t need fancy production values in order to have a good movie, but solid acting helps. We get that not only from Renner in the title role but also Bruce Davison as Dahmer’s father Lionel and Artel Great as Rodney, one of the men Dahmer brings home but who seems to have the most effect on the serial killer.