Plot: Jason (Jesse Moss) has become enthralled with the world of serial killers, driven to explore the minds behind these horrific crimes. He has dreams of working in the field of law enforcement and wants to explore the infamous men he has read about, so he starts to write to some of the notorious serial killers. His professor seems skeptical that the pen pal project will lead to worthwhile insights, but Jason presses on and soon, has started correspondence with several high profile murderers. But one grabs his attention more than the rest, as John Wayne Gacy is not only candid in his letters and calls, but Jason also fits his victim preferences. This leads to an intense exchange, one that stresses Jason to the breaking point, but he continues on and hopes whatever he can extract from Gacy will prove useful. But when he makes the decision to meet Gacy in person, will he gain even more insight or has he made a fatal mistake?
Entertainment Value: Based on Jason Moss’ book The Last Victim, Dear Mr. Gacy follows his real life quest to map the mind of maniacs and sadly, Moss was deeply impacted by his project and took his own life before this film was released. The book has a lot of depth that is skimmed over in the movie of course, but the core of the story is intact and translate well to this medium. The narrative is interesting, as a lot of people write to serial killers, but Moss positioned himself as almost a potential victim and lured in some of the most infamous killers. The situation with Gacy was creepy and quite dark, some of which is glossed over here, but I was glad that Gacy’s attempts to blackmail Moss were carried into the picture. I do think it helps if you have read the book or are familiar with Moss’ story, as you can fill in some of the narrative elements yourself, but by no means is that necessary. Dear Mr. Gacy is able to track the mental toll his experiences were taking and to me, that is the driving force of the story, as while Gacy is a prominent presence, this is Jason’s tale in the end. I think this is well made and should appeal to fans of horror, serial killer cinema, and true crime.
The movie focuses on two main characters, so the bulk of Dear Mr. Gacy is carried by Jesse Moss and William Forsythe. I always love to see Forsythe and he more than delivers here as Gacy, in a wild performance. You can tell he is having fun inside this hideous character, going over the top, but in truth, Gacy was such an unhinged person, you can’t really fault the performer for this approach. I think he also does a great job of showing the dual sides of Gacy, sometimes soft spoken and even compassionate, only to burn into a rage or sexual frenzy at a second’s notice. The mask of sanity isn’t an easy task to pull off, but Forsythe hits it fairly well here. I think he adds a lot to the movie and his effort is one of the film’s strongest assets. Jesse Moss is fine as Jason, but tends to be overpowered by Forsythe’s larger than life turn. The cast also includes Emma Lahana, Patrick Gilmore, and Belinda Metz.