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Parents want their children to grow up and be all that they can possibly be in life. Mothers and fathers simply want their kids to become self-respecting adults, but enjoy the good things of their childhood and adolescence while getting there. All that they can do is provide a good life for their little ones and try to bring them up right. Teach them all their manners. Make sure they go to school and end up with a proper education. Hope that they end up very successful and no matter what; always have the things their parents never had. How must it make you feel then when your child grows up and becomes a psychopathic murdering cannibal?
Jeffrey Dahmer is a man that had a taste for the unusual. Between the years of 1978 and 1991, Dahmer murdered seventeen boys and men. These murders were usually particularly gruesome in that Dahmer enjoyed not only killing people but dismembering them. He also had a habit of raping his victims. Raping them that is, whether they were alive or dead. As necrophilia wasn’t against his morals, then it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Dahmer wasn’t necessarily turned off by cannibalism either. He was one of the most morbid serial killers in American history that was surely going to given the chair. But a fellow inmate beat him to death before there was ever that chance. A deranged man that lived his life the way he liked too, but was considered demented by everyone else. Imagine what that does to those who raised him.
Raising Jeffrey Dahmer is shown mostly through the perspective of his father Lionel Dahmer and his stepmother Sheri. They discuss what happened to their son in childhood and what seemed to go wrong. Questions remain as to why Dahmer ended up doing the things he did. Was it the toys he was given as a child? Was it the friends he used to hang around with? Perhaps something his father said to him that just didn’t sit the right way made him see the world in a different light. It can’t ever be proven what set him off down a path of self-destruction. All that can be done is to assume and wonder.
The film doesn’t exactly go down in chronological order, and my best guess as to why that is lies with what the story is about. Considering the story is told from his parents’ point of view and not Jeffrey’s; they may not know exactly all that happened and when. It’s hard to realize what you were doing while your son was kidnapping little boys, molesting them, and then cutting their heads off so he could keep their skulls as souvenirs. That isn’t exactly something Dahmer shared with everyone while he was doing it, and thus us the reason he got away with it for so long.
While this would be a very interesting way of telling Jeffrey Dahmer’s story; it just never quite gets going. This would have been so much better if they actually would have gotten Dahmer’s parents in and had them talk about him for an hour and a half. Let them discuss his upbringing and how he acted as a child instead of showing us how they thought he acted as an adult. Believe it or not, the 2002 release entitled Dahmer was better then this film because it told his story better. In Raising Jeffrey Dahmer, we get the same story but seen from a passerby because that is basically what his parents ended up being in later years. It just diverts from what it is supposed to be and that is Lionel and Sheri thoughts on their son and turns into what it isn’t supposed to be and that is the story of Jeffrey’s life.
The film is shown in 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen format and there are issues all over the place with how it looks. Some moments are way too bright while others look as if they are fifty years old. Perhaps that was done for effect, but it’s annoying and a pain to stare at.
The film is heard in 2.0 Stereo Sound and it does a good enough job for a film that is mostly dialogue driven. Everything can always be heard without having to adjust the volume, and even though some of the scenes with action in them could have been louder; there’s nothing to complain about.
Audio Commentary – Director Rich Ambler sits alone for this commentary track and it is pretty generic. He goes into detail about the amount of research that was done to get all the information about Dahmer that they could, but that is obvious by the film itself. Other things discussed are how it was on set, the places they shot at, and other random things. It gets pretty dull at times listening to him talk by himself.
Stills Gallery – Images from the film and behind the scenes.
Trailers – Dead Man’s Bounty, The Eye, Frontier(s), Evil Woods, and Alive Or Dead
I applaud the effort here, but it just could have been so much better if they had stayed with what they were trying to do instead of veering off into what has already been done. I’d love to recommend a film about Jeffrey Dahmer’s parents discussing their son’s demented life and what brought him to the place in his life that ultimately took him down, but this isn’t it. Looking for a good flick on his life then be sure to pick up a copy of Dahmer. There were actually a number of films dealing with serial killers under one or two word titles like Gacy, Ted Bundy, and Ed Gein. All of those were cheesy but better then this was. The special features don’t really help much either because the commentary is rather boring and the still photos are pointless. As much as I wanted to enjoy this; I just couldn’t.
Lionsgate presents Raising Jeffrey Dahmer. Directed by: Rich Ambler. Starring: Scott Cordes, Cathy Barnett, Jeannine Hutchings, Rusty Sneary, Bo Svenson. Written by: Wood Dickinson & Christopher Ryan. Running time: 85 minutes. Rating: R. Released on DVD: June 24, 2008. Available at Amazon.com