Plot: The crimes of Jeffrey Dahmer dominated the news cycle and have remained a topic of interest, even as information seems to have been exhausted. In the Jeffrey Dahmer Files, we’re taken inside the case through the eyes of three people who were involved in his life and crimes. Pamela Bass was Dahmer’s one time friend and neighbor, Pat Kennedy was the police detective who interviewed Dahmer and secured the confession, while Jeffrey Jentzen was the medical examiner who worked on the dismembered victims of Dahmer’s crimes. All three provide candid, in depth interviews, while the piece also includes archival news footage and some reenactments that feature Andrew Swant as Dahmer. This is not your run of the mill documentary, but it provides some personal, first hand accounts that are quite interesting.
Entertainment Value: This is a documentary piece, a true crime approach that happens to include some reenactments. So don’t go into this as a movie, but as a feature length true crime show with some great interviews. The heart of the film is the series of interviews with the three people I listed above, as all three provide a first hand, candid recollection of their experiences. The medical examiner is the least interesting of the trio, but he has some good moments as well, giving us a forensic perspective the other two simply couldn’t. Pamela Bass has a unique position, as she knew Dahmer before his crimes became known and considered him a friend, before she discovered what lurked inside his mind. Her interviews are open and honest, especially when she talks about the police’s missteps in the case and how she (and the others close to Dahmer) were treated in the wake of his arrest.
The final interviewee is Pat Kennedy, the man who dealt with Dahmer after his arrest and secured his confession. Much like Bass, you can tell Kennedy formed a connection of sorts to Dahmer and you can also tell this disturbs him deeply, as he is open and honest about his relationship with the killer. He also details those early moments of the case, when he assumed Dahmer was lying about other murders, only to be shocked when he learned the scope of his crimes. I think Kennedy is the most engaging aspect of this piece, as he seems to be totally honest and doesn’t shy away from tough subjects, so his scenes are quite interesting. The reenactments provide capable mood I suppose, but I would have preferred additional interview time, to be honest. I suppose these scenes are the closest thing to Dahmer himself being included in the piece. While no real new ground is broached in this piece, it is an interesting and well made film, especially the personal, candid interview moments. So if you’re a fan of true crime or just love serial killers, give this one a look.