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My Friend Dahmer 2017

My Friend Dahmer

My Friend Dahmer

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About the My Friend Dahmer 💬

  • Based on a true story.

Jeffrey Dahmer murdered 17 men and boys in the Midwest United States between 1978 and 1991 before being captured and incarcerated. He would become one of America's most infamous serial killers. This is the story before that story.

Before he became one of the most notorious serial killers in true crime history, Jeffrey Dahmer was nothing but a shy, troubled high-school student...

You only think you know this story. In 1991, the world discovered the chilling truth about Jeffrey Dahmer. But before the trial, the headlines and a spate of gruesome murders, Dahmer was a teenage loner. Conducting grisly experiments in a makeshift backyard lab, Jeff was invisible to most, until his increasingly outlandish behavior unexpectedly attracted friends.

1978, Ohio. 17-year-old Jeffrey Dahmer (Ross Lynch) is an awkward teenager struggling to make it through high school with a family life in ruins. He collects roadkill, fixates on a neighborhood jogger Dr. Matthews (Vincent Kartheiser), and copes with his unstable mother Joyce (Anne Heche) and well-intentioned father Lionel (Dallas Roberts). He begins to act out at school, and his goofball antics win over a group of band-nerds who form The Dahmer Fan Club, headed by John 'Derf' Backderf (Alex Wolff). But this camaraderie can't mask his growing depravity. Approaching graduation, Jeff spirals further out of control, inching ever closer to madness.

Based on the critically acclaimed graphic novel by Jeff's cartoonist classmate John 'Derf' Backderf, MY FRIEND DAHMER chronicles the origins of the man, the monster... the high school senior. Shot on location and in Dahmer's childhood home, the film reveals his troubled family life, his increasingly bizarre attempts to make friends and his fascination with the macabre.


''When I was a kid, I was just like anybody else.''

Jeff Dahmer

When I was a kid growing up in the '80s, I had a fair-weather friend who lived down the street in a beautiful home set on the edge of a small lake. I never witnessed it, but I heard he would occasionally take a baseball bat into the backyard and try to hit the snapping turtles that were nesting on the edge of his property. Friends would quip that someday he'll for sure become a serial killer. Yet today, according to Facebook, he's a school teacher and happily married with kids.

This memory stuck with me and was the initial seed - I could make a film that's a portrait of a serial killer as a young boy.

Then, I discovered Derf Backderf's graphic novel MY FRIEND DAHMER and my idea was kidnapped by his deeply personal, true story. In the book's epilogue, he shares the redefining moment in his early thirties when his phone rang. It was his wife calling from work; she was a reporter at their local newspaper. She shared the breaking news that a man who graduated from high school with him (over a decade earlier) was just arrested in Wisconsin and confessed to murdering 17 young men, and other ghastly details. She asked her husband to guess who he thought it was. Derf's first guess wasn't Jeffrey Dahmer.

Derf's high school experience, until that moment, seemed to be just like anybody else. This isn't a story about the monster we all know. This is the story before that story.

What are those forces in one's life that sculpt and define us? How do we become who we become? Why does one teenager find promise and his friend, meanwhile, enters adulthood broken? How well do you know a friend?

Nature versus nurture is one of our most fundamental debates. And in my film, I don't promise to provide answers, but I hope that by sharing this story, audiences might ask these questions for themselves, hopefully through a more compassionate lens.

I was committed to adapting Derf's tale as faithfully as possible. The author's personal narrative is horrifyingly honest, and for me, it was of utmost importance to maintain that candidness in my interpretation. I could relate to these characters. They reminded me of my own high school days growing up in a similar rural suburb as Akron, Ohio. Plus, the timeline of Jeff's family life disintegrating around him oddly mirrored my own parents' divorce during the end of my high school experience.

When I was writing an early draft, the author took me around his hometown and showed me the actual spots portrayed in the book, including their high school and Jeffrey Dahmer's actual childhood home. For me, location is as important as casting the right actor for a role, and I was immediately steadfast on filming at that house. One could assume filming at the actual Dahmer home was creepy, but I found the place rather inspiring. It's a serene home perched on a hill.

The sounds of birds and crickets at night reminded me of my youth. And, most importantly, the spot gave myself, the cast, and crew a deeper connection to the actual events in our story.

I storyboarded the entire script in three sketchpads and incorporated many of Derf's own drawings whenever my adaptation and the source material overlapped. These storyboards were with me on set every day. And, with the utmost respect for the book, fans of the graphic novel will recognize many of the book's panels interpreted for the screen.

The collaboration I had with the entire cast is one of the highlights of my career. I'm very grateful for their talent, passionate dedication, and enthusiasm for the project. That's all. I'd like to let the performances speak for themselves.

Recreating the truly bizarre world of the suburban seventies swirling around Jeff's teenage life was great fun. It was an era before computers entered the home. Before Cable TV and CNN's 24-hour news cycle. It was still a local life. And teens from Northeast Ohio were soaking up an incredible, varied moment in music. I'm proud that our indie film was able to include period accurate music from the area - audiences will experience songs from Akron-originated punk bands, as well as more mainstream tunes that were in rotation on Cleveland's hit station WMMS Buzzard Radio. I courted the actual WMMS DJ Denny Sanders to lend his voice as the radio DJ in the film.

Many films portray an ordinary person faced with extraordinary circumstances. In contrast, I think I've made the opposite - this is the story of an odd & troubled, truly distinct, individual who tries to navigate through an ordinary world. Except for Jeff's gradual, inevitable unraveling is horrifying, and right there in broad view.

Marc Meyers

My Friend Dahmer Movie Details 🎥

Directed by

Marc Meyers

Writing Credits

Marc Meyers (Screenplay)

John Backderf (Based on the book ''My Friend Dahmer'' by)


Ross Lynch

Anne Heche

Dallas Roberts

Alex Wolff

Tommy Nelson

Harrison Holzer

Vincent Kartheiser

Liam Koeth

Jack DeVillers

Miles Robbins

Dontez James

Katie Stottlemire

Sydney Jane Meyer

Cameron McKendry

Jake Ingrassia

Dave Sorboro

Music by

Andrew Hollander

Cinematography by

Daniel Katz

Genre: Drama

Country: United States

My Friend Dahmer Official Trailer

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