The performances are great, but the film itself has multiple issues. For one, it has a made-for-tv banality to it; strong language is as transgressive as it ever gets. In a film that is supposed to be about sex, violence and madness, the clothes stay on, there's less blood than a dentist visit and not only are the character insights wholly incomplete and distant, but you never actually see more than bad moods and mundane reactions.
In this movie, Dahmer isn't an introvert driven to extremes of serial murder, dismemberment, cannibalism and personal hell. He is simply an unfortunate, morose witness to his own grim hobby. The flashbacks never form a full story arc, and by the end, you're wondering "where the hell is the rest of the story?".
Nor is there any strong thread or progression of events that form an evolution of the insanity, its simply a series of events. It's as flat of a story-board as I have ever seen from a production that clearly had the means to create more tension and character but never delivers.
Instead, but for a few exceptions, the cinematography has the shallow, dull perspective of a day-time soap than a full film that had the chance to delve into an incredible story of madness, self rejection and isolation, and wastes good acting producing a g-rated comic strip with trite angles, dull tempo and no real closing. One gets the sincere impression that the beginning of the movie had a lot more thought put into it, but the finished product was finished on the fly.
Theres not enough information to call it biographical. There isn't any gore to call it horror. There isn't any fright whatsoever to call it a thriller. There's too many prudish fig leaves to call it transgressive. And the pace and framing is too trite to call it unique.
This had so much potential, and god knows the actors did their best with so little context. But ultimately, there is no shock, no mystery, no evolution, no horror, no scare and no libido. If you bleep the language less than a dozen times, its perfectly suited to day-time tv.
No one is going to watch this and feel afraid of Dahmer, but neither will they find his thinking deserving of curiosity nor sympathy. It's set up to show one trying day laced with flashbacks, but all your left with is an unhappy man having a tiresome day.
Some may argue it is a bit slow paced however I personally loved the anticipation and slow elements.
The only problem with this movie is that it doesn't really have a definitive ending (why didn't they film the arrest and not just tell you in writing?) and the film doesn't tell you much about the true story of Jeffrey Dahmer.
Dahmer is a tough film to sit through. I guess that's a pretty obvious trait in a film like this. It's dark and it goes inside the mind of one of the most notorious serial killers in American history. Jeremy Renner does a pretty good job as Jeffrey Dahmer, but it's not enough to save this movie for me. For one this film is terribly acted by the supporting cast around Renner and everything about the film comes off as amateurish.
These serial killer movies are a weird sub-genre in the horror film genre. Some of them can be good, while still being hard to watch and some can be bad, while being hard to watch. Dahmer definitely falls into the bad definition. It's disturbing, sick, twisted and any other word you could come up with to describe Dahmer, but the film as a whole just doesn't do anything. It's as dull and lifeless as Dahmer, which may be the writer, director's ambition with the material, but it just doesn't work.