Jeffrey Dahmer was a quiet, unassuming man who kept to himself, was polite to his neighbours and didn’t cause trouble for anyone. Naturally his apartment was found to be filled with the body parts from dozens of missing persons on whom Dahmer had practised rape, dismemberment, necrophilia and cannibalism. The Jeffrey Dahmer Files is a documentary focussing on the summer of Dahmer’s arrest consisting of archive footage, interviews, and vague re-enactments.
The film either had a laser-like focus or a limited number of willing participants as a grand total of just three interviewees feature in the film. We hear from a medical examiner, Dahmer’s neighbour, and the police officer who arrested and subsequently interviewed him. Their testimony is interspersed with archive news and police footage from the day Dahmer’s flat was raided alongside images from the police files on what was found inside. Perhaps the most interesting inclusion in this documentary is what I described as vague reconstructions. These are not always reconstructions of specific events or murders but often simply show Dahmer just pottering around town leading an ordinary life. The scenes are shot in such a way that they resemble an indie film – one presumably starring Ryan Gosling.
The indie film footage is an odd inclusion but in many ways is what grounds the documentary and allows us the see Dahmer as a real human being who once actually existed. Without it the film would simply be three people talking about a monstrous individual, only giving a partial picture of the man in question.
While my other murder-centric documentary of the festival West of Memphis interviewed literally everyone involved in the case and covered so much detail I felt there was little more to say on the matter The Jeffrey Dahmer Files is a much more lightweight documentary. Plenty of stones are left unturned and while I now have an idea of Dahmer and the crimes he committed I was left wanting to seek out more information on his case.
An intriguing documentary with a unique approach The Jeffrey Dahmer Files will please anyone with an interest in true crime but will merely whet your appetite as far as the Jeffrey Dahmer case is concerned.