“Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story,” starring actor Evan Peters, is a new Netflix miniseries that recounts the crimes and victims of the infamous cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer. (Photo courtesy of Netflix)
By Juri Dagio | Staff Writer
In a new Netflix series released Wednesday, Emmy Award-winning director and writer Ryan Murphy chronicles the crimes of the notorious Milwaukee cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer. Ryan Murphy is well known for “American Horror Story,” which contains extreme graphic violence that makes the TV show incredibly gory. Unexpectedly, instead of full detailed bloody images and disturbing recreation of a serial killer, Ryan Murphy’s “Dahmer” is focused on the victims — creating a staggering mood of loss and misery that gives a gloomy atmosphere throughout the series.
Dahmer, played with a quiet intensity by Evan Peters, is shown in the first few episodes as an antisocial child with interests that makes him considerably different from the others. He likes to gut roadkill animals, peeling the creatures apart in the most hedonistic ways that depicts his fascination with organs from a very young age, which was also influenced by his father who taught him how to dissect animals in their garage as a father-and-son activity. The first few episodes show that Dahmer’s relationship with his affectionate-but-troubled father (played by Richard Jenkins) and with his disturbed mother (played by Penelope Ann Miller) is to sympathize for, but the series differs from any other biographical crime drama since it doesn’t sympathize with Jeffrey Dahmer.
As the series progresses, the focus shifts to the victims and the political issues of that time. In the 6th episode titled “Silenced,” the episode concentrates on Tony Hughes, an aspiring model and a deaf man who met Dahmer in a bar and was killed by him in 1991. As presented in the following episode, “Cassandra” paints a bigger picture of how racism contributed to Dahmer’s murder spree. Neighbor Glenda Cleveland, played by American actress Niecy Nash, made personal complaints to the police about the noise and the foul smell coming from Dahmer’s room. Glenda’s complaints could have prevented Dahmer from killing more men, but her concerns were turned down by the police and minimized to a black woman hating on a white man.
Watching “Dahmer” without any expectations and without knowing that Ryan Murphy isn’t trying to acquire sympathy for Jeffrey Dahmer, it became pretty obvious from Episode 6 that the series will tell two sides of the story. Unlike modern biographical crime dramas where it is always gory and violent (mostly viewed in the perspective of the killer), the back half of the series is about societal issues and the people ー specifically queer and Black communities ー that are permanently changed by his actions.
The story of Jeffrey Dahmer has been told many times in films and documentaries; the only reason this series stands out is that it intends to unveil the aftermath of Dahmer’s twisted fantasies.
Netflix made the entire 10-episode series, with hourlong episodes, available when it was released on Wednesday.
To watch the trailer, click here.