It seems like Hollywood is plum out of new ideas. Periodically, when they aren’t adapting Lethal Weapon into a TV series or harvesting ’80s nostalgia to redressed as a Netflix original, television executives and movie producers have a habit of looking Milwaukee’s way and drawing from that old, trusty well that is the 13-year run of atrocities committed by Jeffrey Dahmer. According to Movie Plot, that tragic trend of giving screen time to the serial rapist, murderer, and cannibal will continue in 2017, when My Friend Dahmer hits theaters.
The film is said to be an adaptation of the best-selling graphic novel by the same name that was written by Derf Backderf, a purported childhood friend of Dahmer. The film is described as “the haunting, sad, funny, true look at the high school years of Jeffrey Dahmer. An intoxicating blend of a coming-of-age tale with the borrowed hook of a serial killer narrative.”
This time around, so-called “Disney star” Ross Lynch will portray the man responsible for killing 17 people, ruining the lives of countless others, and forever blemishing Milwaukee as a horrific footnote in the “funny coming-of-age tale.” Anne Heche is slated to play Joyce Dahmer, Jeffrey’s mother.
In addition to the various documentaries and true crime programs that have featured Dahmer through the years, the serial killer was the subject of Dahmer, a 2002 film starring Jeremy Renner. In 2006, another low-budget movie called Raising Jeffrey Dahmer examined the killer’s upbringing and chronicled the events leading to his 1991 arrest.
In 2012, local filmmakers Chris James Thompson and Andrew Swant gave an uncharacteristically respectful glimpse into Dahmer’s crimes and the impact they had on the community with a combination of interviews, news footage, and reenactments in The Jeffrey Dahmer Files.
That should have definitively been a wrap on Dahmer’s on-screen portrayals. Unfortunately, American Horror Story dusted Dahmer off for a cameo last season.
My Friend Dahmer‘s release next year—26 years after Dahmer’s arrest and 23 years after his death, for those scoring at home—will entertain movie-goers with the origin story of a figure who still haunts Milwaukee, a city that has made great efforts to heal by eliminating any residual evidence of the killer’s existence. When the credits roll, it’s safe to assume victims’ families and friends nor the locals who lived near, worked with, and drank beside Dahmer will be listed among the film’s consultants.
Yes, Jeffrey Dahmer’s story is important, but it has already been told so many times in countless ways. Though Milwaukee seems to love national attention, this is one instance where most residents would prefer to remain overlooked.