My Friend Dahmer – Review

When it comes to serial killers, we tend to romanticize them in the sense that we see them as monsters: Detached from our own humanity and society, so we can feel better about ourselves. It’s shocking to discover these people lived normal lives and had normal relationships. Because knowing there could be a killer in your midst is terrifying.

This is looked at in Marc Meyer’s My Friend Dahmer.

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My Friend Dahmer is based on a book by Derf Backderf. It details the teenage life of Jeffery Dahmer, long before he became one of America’s most notorious serial killers. Set in the seventies, it follows Dahmer in rural Ohio. Dealing with the unhappy marriage of his parents at home, Jeffrey spends most of his time collecting dead animals and dissolving them in his shed. He also has an uneasy obsession with a jogger who runs by his home every day. A relative unknown at school, Jeffrey starts to act out, imitating spasms and making loud noises to perturb his class mates whilst also attracting a group of boys eager for him to continue…

The central and titular character is performed by the young Ross Lynch. Much has been made of Lynch’s Disney background. True, the star has been made through many outrageous original movies and certainly him being cast against type here was a bold move. Yet it is a move that has worked because of this contrast. Lynch inhabits Dahmer brilliantly well. Understanding the thought processes that keeps him disconnected from his blossoming sexuality, and his utmost eagerness to fit in, Ross finds a really hard understanding with the real-life character that is often missed in  movies of this nature.

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Alex Wolff is magnetic as John “Derf” Backderf. As a willing participant of Jeffrey’s antics (and self-professed number one of his Fan Club,) Derf encourages the attention-seeking behaviour only to, naturally, tire of it. Wolff plays this intimately and intricately, showing a very usual dissipitation of interest. This, however, causes a slight hollow anguish for the audience. The further they use and then dispose of Jefffery, the further this pushes Dahmer to become more eccentric and seek further validation. As Derf and the group finally fall out of sync with Dahmer, the movie turns and becomes this study of loneliness in Jeffery, highlighting his frustrating with falling out of favour with society so early on in his life. As Derf encounters Dahmer one last time in a dark chance meeting, Wolff conveys the fright and worry as well as unquestionable remorse.

What My Friend Dahmer does is ground the titular serial killer in an eerie realness.  The empathy delivered here is outstanding. By no means does the movie try to belittle or forgive Dahmer, but it does try to make sense of him in a grounded way. As aforementioned at the beginning, we as a society like to make supernatural beasts out of murderers to distance ourselves away from their nature. But by humanizing the killer and taking away the monster credentials, Meyer’s crafts a pitying, sympathetic piece that ultimately becomes more chilling in its truthfulness.

My Friend Dahmer is out on DVD & Blu-Ray now! 

Pacific Rim: Uprising – Review

by James and Ava Van Dyke

Pacific Rim is one of the most polarising action films. Directed by Del Toro, the original saw humanity create battling robots named Jaegers in order to defend the world from Kaiju aliens invading. The film has many detractors, often citing boredom or silliness as their reasons for criticism, but here at We Make Movies On Weekends, we adore the film for its inventive action sequences, gun-ho scrappy characters, and a heart-filled story at the centre of it.

With anything remotely successful, a sequel will eventually be developed. Despite Del Toro initially wanting to direct, the mantle fell to director Steven S DeKnight and leading man (and producer) John Boyega to continue the Pacific Rim legacy with Uprising.

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Set ten years after the events of the first film, the film revolves around Jake Pentacost. Consider the son of Idris Elbra’s heroic captain in the original, Jake makes a living selling Jaeger scraps on the black market. A shadowy Shao Corporation develops a Jaeger drone program, combing technology and Kaiju biology that would eventually make pilots redundant. However, when the Jaeger’s start going rogue, it’s up to Jake and amateur Jaeger pilot Amara Amani to save the day, with the guidance of Mako, Jake’s adopted sister.
Fans of Del Toro’s work in the first film will be sorely disappointed to find the movie is more Michael Bay than innovative action garb. Here, the action is the biggest highlights whilst the characterisation and plot fall short of anything truly gripping. There’s a pretty tight plot and the pace never slows, but that is detriment to us caring too deeply about the characters. In the first film, Riley and Mako were spirited centres that grounded the film in realism and heart. Despite Boyega’s best efforts, it’s hard to care too deeply about all involved.

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That being said, Boyega has enough charm to carry the film. Even though there is a bit of a gap with Charlie Hunnam’s Riley no longer being part of the universe and even with the issues of action over story, Boyega’s presence is ultimately an improvement on the one-faced heroes of the original. Boyega is a movie star: His charisma fills up the screen every second he is in it. There is a lot of confidence in Jake and Boyega is able to make him a lovable hero not dissimilar to his work with Star Wars’ Finn.

Newcomer Amara Amani is a great counterpart to Boyega and, despite the sluicing down of the material, Amani is a strong female character to match Boyega. It may be dumb, but the cast are clearly having a fun time with it all and that kinetic energy comes off the screen.

Pacific Rim: Uprising is alright. It’s neither ground-breaking, necessary, or surpasses any of the countless other action sci-fi films out there. However, there’s enough in the spirited cast and some impressive fight sequences that’ll keep you entertained at the very least.

Pacific Rim: Uprising is out on DVD & Blu-Ray now!