Written by on February 22, 2024

When the story of Jeffery Dahmer came to light in 1991 it was a completely shocking moment. I was in high school, and stories of serial killers seemed like long ago moments that didn’t happen anymore. They sure didn’t happen a state away either as far as I knew. When I heard the report on the morning radio that morning I couldn’t comprehend the horror that was about to be read to the world. A man had killed several young men and had been chopping up their bodies. Later, we heard that he had been also eating performing cannibalism and possibly other experiments. I remember my schoolmates discussing the news and not many of us made any jokes. It was just too disturbing. As the weeks went on we learned more and more about this horrible man and even how he was almost caught several times, but somehow had dumb luck on his side. Movies about serial killers had been made for TV, but how could you ever tell this story on the small screen? It’s just too brutal. There were a few movies released in the early 2000’s that gave a look inside his life and actions. The most known is from 2002 starring Jeremy Renner simply called “Dahmer”. It is a very dark and stays true to the story. Netflix decided to up the ante with their version called “Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffery Dahmer Story” that takes it to another chilling level.

The story of Jeffery Dahmer doesn’t start with him just suddenly becoming a killer. As with all of these stories there is more to it. These people obviously have some imbalance, but it is also spurred by events in their life. Jeff never had it so bad that he was already having issues before he was even born. As we see in the movie his mother had a litany of mental problems and addictions. His father seems to try his best, but maybe he ignores the problems he sees right on front of him. Jeff is an awkward kid and that carries on into adulthood. He is obviously struggling with his sexual orientation as well. All of this causes him to become and alcoholic. Beyond that the series shows us that Dahmer is a killer just waiting to strike. The combination of everything in his life causes him to break and become the monster the general public knows.

The cast of “Monster” is absolutely stellar. Evan Peters plays Jeff as a quiet and awkward adult that is as stone faced and unreadable as a clean slate. His mere presence on the screen is unnerving. He seems to encapsulate the real Dahmer well and when you combine what we already know about the character with his performance it can cause you to squirm uncomfortably in your seat whenever he’s on screen. Richard Jenkins as Jeff’s struggling dad was definitely worthy of his Emmy nomination and Penelope Ann Miller as his mother, Joyce was a brilliant choice. If there is anyone you hate slightly less than Jeff it is his mother. Molly Ringwald plays Jeff’s stepmom and Niecy Nash plays his neighbor that has the uncomfortable task of living next to an adult Dahmer as he carries out his heinous crimes that the police seem to avoid following up on. Add on Michael Learned of “The Waltons” fame and this cast seems like it was a dream come true. The structure of the episodes jumps to different times in Jeff’s life. In fact, the very first episode shows how he was caught before other episodes show how he got to that point before going to trial. This series is so well done and captures the inside of this horrible person’s mind so well it gives a glimpse into what goes into making a serial killer that it will have you debating how this came to be. Uncomfortable, unnerving, creepy, and shocking are just some of the emotions that will come to the surface for you. It truly can be tough to watch at times and is not for the faint of heart or weak stomached. You are shown things that you can’t imagine a person doing. Add in the build up it takes to get there and the slow boil really gets your skin crawling. If you have a personality that wants to know the entire backstory then I suggest watching this series, but be warned it isn’t some simple documentary. For those that are squeamish I suggest you stay far away from this show and just stick to what you already know. While it’s not pandering to the shock value crowd it will make you feel like you need a break from the show between episodes just to get your own mind right.

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