ABC Film Challenge – Biopic – J – My Friend Dahmer (2017)

Director: Marc Meyers

Writer: Marc Meyers (Screenplay) John Backderf (Book)

Starring: Ross Lynch, Vincent Kartheiser, Anne Heche, Alex Wolff, Dallas Roberts

 

Plot: A young Jeffrey Dahmer struggles to belong in high school.


Tagline – Based on the Acclaimed Graphic Novel

Runtime: 1 Hour 47 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Unsettlingly, but Not Disturbing

 

Story: Mr Friend Dahmer starts as outside Jeff Dahmer (Lynch) is getting through high school by avoiding people while performing experiments in his house. When he starts hanging out with John ‘Derf’ Backderf (Wolff) he brings in a routine to pretend to be special around the school making him more confident.

With his own problems at home with his mother Joyce’s (Heche) mental health getting worse and his father Lionel (Roberts) moving out, it is up to Jeff to keep himself busy, which see him become more attracted to killing and dead bodies.

 

Thoughts on My Friend Dahmer

 

Characters – Jeff Dahmer is the awkward teenager at high school, an outside who enjoys studying bodies of animals, he doesn’t get bullied, but soon starts getting used by a group of high schoolers that see his ability to act out enjoyable for them. He plays along believing he has been accepted, only to see his own desires to see about biology become a more focal point in his life. Derf is one of the high school kids that befriends Jeff, he ends up using his ability to act mentally handicapped as some form of enjoyment pushing him to become more forward with what he is doing. Joyce and Lionel are the parents of Jeff’s they are going through a difficult time which makes Jeff’s life even harder.

PerformancesRoss Lynch is easily the star of this film, we are left feeling uneasy with his performance at times, while other times we can see him looking like a normal teenager, he makes us worried about what his characters actions will be. Alex Wolff, Anne Heche and Dallas Roberts gives us great supporting performances with each one doing everything that will leave to the problems Jeffrey ends up doing.

StoryThis is a story about the high school time for serial killer Jeffery Dahmer, we see how he never truly fitted in and even when he was accepted he is only ever used for a performance to entertain. This does tease that he could just be awkward, but also clearly shows how he is going down the darker path with his obsession with killing animals. Now from a show of decline in nature, this is good, but for the fact this is real you can’t help but to question this idea for a story because of what he went on to do, like always, we focus on the killer not he victims.

Biopic/HorrorThis does show the early years of Jeffrey Dahmer, how he was an outsider at school, how his desires for blood went unnoticed and how he become the killer we sadly all know today.

SettingsThe film is set in the same town in which Jeffrey grew up, giving the film an authentic look at his early years.


Scene of the Movie –
The ending.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The animal scenes are not easy to watch

Final ThoughtsThis is an interesting look at one of the most famous of all the modern day serial killers youth in America, it shows how he started off uneasy and only became more disturbing as he grew older.

 

Overall: Unsettling throughout.

Rating

 

 

Alaska (1996)

Director: Fraser C Heston

Writer: Andy Burg, Scott Myers (Screenplay)

Starring: Thora Birch, Vincent Kartheiser, Dirk Benedict, Charlton Heston, Duncan Fraser

 

Plot: While searching for their missing father in the mountains of Alaska, two siblings come across a baby polar bear on the run from a pair of poachers.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Wonderful Adventure Family Film

 

Story: Alaska starts as we meet the Barnes family, father Jake (Benedict) a small plane pilot and his kids Jessie (Birch) and Sean (Kartheiser), the family has started a new life in Alaska after their death of Jake’s wife and mother of Jessie and Sean. While Jessie has embraced this new life enjoying the beautiful sites, Sean is struggling with new life. We also get to meet to poachers Perry (Heston) and Koontz (Fraser) who have been hunting polar bears.

When their father goes missing, Jessie and Sean aim to go in search of him through the Alaskan wilderness discovering a captured baby polar bear cub that they release who joins them on their adventure, which only attracts the poachers attention as they find themselves chased through the wilderness by the poachers too in a race against time to find their father.

 

Thoughts on Alaska

 

Characters/PerformanceJessie is the sister of the siblings, she has embraced the change to Alaska learning to be part of the team with her father, while they both want to search for their father, she is the most prepared of the two. Sean hates his new life in Alaska and wants to move back to Chicago but you can clearly see he is grieving his mother with his behaviour, but with his father missing he will do everything he can to find him, learning to love the beautiful landscape they are part of now. Jake is the father of the family that has given up his 747-pilot job to start a new life in the small town in Alaska, he does spend most of the film trapped in his plane but his character gives Jessie and Sean the reason for going on their adventure. Perry and Koontz are two poachers hunting polar bears, they cross paths with the kids as they menacingly try to recapture the polar bear cub that they had released.

Performance wise, Thora Birch and Vincent Kartheiser are both great in the lead roles as the children in search of their father. Dirk doesn’t have much to do but does what he needs to well. Charlton Heston as the menacing poacher does seem to enjoy the role he plays in the movie.

StoryThe story of two young teenagers going into the wilderness to find their missing father is a nice tried and tested formula, this style of film seemed to be the rave for family films around the time too, so to stand out you had to do something different. We get the moments of peril which are good and well-paced but we also get the moments of discovery which are just as important. Obviously, there are negatives here which include the idea the adults are clueless when searching for people in crashes and poachers being just evil people. I would also like to point out, that it is very unlikely a polar bear mother is just going to accept another cub, well that is what David Attenborough has taught me.

Adventure/FamilyThe adventure the kids get to go on is one I remember watching as a kid going, I wanna do that and I still would like to. The family side of this film is about the unity between a broken family doing everything to stay together and of course having a cute little polar bear helping them out.

SettingsAlaska as a setting, beautiful, stunning, peril filled and perfect for the story being told.

EffectsWe only have a few effects in use here, most feels practical with the stunt work and working with a potential deadly animal in a polar bear.

Final ThoughtsThis is easily one of the better kids work with animal films of the 90s, one that gives you hope in humanity and a wonderful setting.

 

Overall: Family night sorted.

Rating