Before they become criminals capable of carrying out gruesome crimes, even serial killers have to go through high school. In the new film My Friend Dahmer, Ross Lynch, star of the Disney Channel's Austin and Ally and Teen Beach Movie, stars as the serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer at a young age. Check out the teaser for the all-new film above.
The film's synopsis is as follows:
"Jeff Dahmer (Disney Channel's 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 (Vincent Kartheiser, Mad Men), and copes with his unstable mother (Anne Heche) and well-intentioned father (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 Derf Backderf (Alex Wolff, Nickelodeon's The Naked Brothers Band). But this camaraderie can't mask his growing depravity. Approaching graduation, Jeff spirals further out of control, inching ever closer to madness."
Far from being the first film to be based on a real-life serial killer, My Friend Dahmer is a more stylized version of the killer's upbringing, taking inspiration from the graphic novel of the same name by Derf Backderf.
Between 1978 and 1991, Dahmer is said to have raped, killed, and dismembered 17 men and boys. He suffered from borderline personality disorder, schizotypal personality disorder, and a psychotic disorder. However, he was found to be legally sane at the time of his trial, where he was sentenced to serve 15 life sentences for his crimes.
With the real-life killer taking the central role, the film is tasked with navigating a sensitive subject matter, trying to find a balance between making the audience sympathize with its lead character while also portraying the character honestly.
Classic horror films like Psycho and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre claim to have taken influences from real-life killers, while a slew of direct-to-video horror movies in the late '90s and early '00s recreated the crimes of famous murders like Ed Gein, Ted Bundy, and John Wayne Gacy.
Rather than trying to recreate his terrible crimes, My Friend Dahmer explores themes of nature vs. nurture and how someone with diagnosed mental issues could experience significant events in their life that leads them down a darker path than someone who receives the help they need.
My Friend Dahmer has been playing the film festival circuit but is expected to land in theaters this fall.