Serial killers are the subjects of endless fascination, especially in the realm of entertainment. The more heinous the crime, the more compelling it is, and that’s definitely true in the case of Jeffrey Dahmer. The cannibalistic murderer is the focus of countless movies and books; just last month, the graphic novel My Friend Dahmer was picked up for a big-screen adaptation.
His story resurfaces once again in director Chris James Thompson’s documentary The Jeffrey Dahmer Files, which made its world premiere at the 2012 SXSW Film Festival and also played the 2012 Hot Docs Film Festival in Toronto. Soon, it will see a wider release, as a press release tells us IFC Midnight have acquired all North American and UK rights to the film.
Based on a screenplay by Thompson and his co-writers, Andrew Swant and Joe Riepenhoff, The Jeffrey Dahmer Files explores the city of Milwaukee by meeting those surrounding Dahmer during and after his hidden spree. In 1991, he was arrested and sentenced to 957 years in prison for killing 17 people and dismembering their bodies, though his sentence didn’t last long – he was beaten to death by a fellow inmate in 1994.
Recollections from Milwaukee Medical Examiner Jeffrey Jentzen, Police Detective Patrick Kennedy, and neighbor Pamela Bass are interwoven with archival footage and everyday scenes from Dahmer’s life, working collectively to disassemble the facade of an ordinary man leading an ordinary existence. The project – which, according to the press release, took four years to complete – was produced by Thompson, Jack Turner, Chris Smith, and Barry Poltermann.
The gruesome tale has seen many reiterations, so I’m not expecting any shocking new developments or details. However, Sundance Selects/IFC Films president, Jonathan Sehring managed to spark my curiosity by stating that the documentary “approached the well-known subject of Jeffrey Dahmer in a new and inventive way,” following with the cryptic promise that “you will never eat a sandwich quite the same way.” I don’t know how sandwiches fit in there, but I’m now determined to find out.
IFC Midnight is planning an early 2013 release for the film.
Do you think the world needs more Dahmer? Would you watch the documentary?
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