The Jeffrey Dahmer Story: Review and Ending Explained

The Jeffrey Dahmer Story: Review and Ending Explained

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If you ever Google the term “American Serial Killer”, stumbling upon the name Jeffrey Dahmer is a sure thing. Between 1978 and 1991 Dahmer murdered seventeen men and boys, many of whom are black; thus making him one of the most notorious serial killers of all time. Dahmer, who was also a sex offender, was known to engage in activities such as dismembering bodies, chemically preserving body parts, cannibalism, and necrophilia with his victims.

As serial murder has always been an extremely fascinating selling topic for both screen and paper, it’s no surprise that there have been various interpretations of its story over the past three decades; some of which even date back to 1992 when he was still alive. Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan’s new Netflix miniseries, starring Evan Peters in the lead role, is the latest version of the whole thing, but what sets this one apart from most others is the broad uses of the victim’s perspective.

Taking a 180-degree turn of the usual hyper-dramatized, sensationalist dialogue and twist-oriented signature style that can be seen in most of his popular works (American Horror Story, American Crime Story, Glee, Scream Queens to name a few), Murphy takes a very subdued and very grounded documentary-style narrative approach to this one and it works in his favor.

Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story (2022) Netflix miniseries recap:

The non-linear narrative goes back and forth and often looks at it entirely from the victims’ perspective.

The year is 1991 and in the Oxford apartment building in Milwaukee, 212 tenant Glenda Cleveland (Emmy winner Niecy Nash) is deeply concerned about the suspicious activities of her neighbor Jeffrey Dahmer. Peeking through the peephole in the door, Glenda sees Dahmer arriving at his apartment with a young African-American man.

We see him walking into a gay bar and picking up a man named Tracy Edwards (Shaun J. Brown) with a promise to pay him money in exchange for his photos being clicked. Tracy goes to Dahmer’s apartment and soon discovers his true sinister intention. He still manages to find an opportunity to overpower Dahmer and escape. Scared and anxious, Tracy finds police officers John Balcerzak (Scott Michael Morgan) and Joseph T. Gabrish (Matthew Alan) and takes them to Dahmer’s apartment. This eventually results in Dahmer’s arrest and the police find other disturbing things like human remains, several heads in the freezer, two skulls, and a huge drum containing different decomposing bodies in acid.

We peak at Dahmer’s awkward childhood in Ohio and the dysfunctional relationship he shares with his parents Lionel (Josh Braaten) and Joyce (Savannah Brown). He’s completely disconnected from his drug-addicted mother and the only father-son bond seems to be dissecting hit-and-runs together.

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Dahmer Monster The Story of Jeffrey Dahmer Netflix Review Recap Minseries Final (2)
Dahmer. Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story. (left to right) Evan Peters as Jeffrey Dahmer, Michael Learned as Catherine Dahmer in Dahmer episode 102. Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2022

His parents soon divorce and Dahmer is completely alone for a summer in 1978, when he commits his first murder by luring a hitchhiker with the promise of a few beers. The murder is followed by Dahmer dismembering the body, dissolving the flesh in acid and crushing the bones with a sledgehammer.

Lionel (Richard Jenkins, playing an older version) eventually returns to Dahmer’s life with Sherry (Molly Ringwald), who later becomes his stepmother. He enrolls his son at Ohio State University in hopes of a more functional future and when Dahmer ends up being expelled from college, he is sent to the army.

Two years later, being in the army doesn’t work for Dahmer either, and neither does living in Miami, as he can’t stand being alone. He returns to Ohio and eventually moves to West Allis, Wisconsin, with his grandmother. However, he continues to attract trouble by exposing himself in public at a state fair and in turn losing his job as a phlebotomist. His relationship with his grandmother also turns bitter when she finds a male mannequin in his bed and realizes he is using him for sexual purposes. He finds a “new hobby” in drugging gay men and ends up being banned from the bathhouses when he is caught. However, that doesn’t stop him and he continues his cruel deeds in classy hotels.

His relentless murderous instincts drive him to take more lives at his grandmother’s house and he disposes of the remains under the guise of taxidermy. One of the victims is accidentally saved by her grandmother’s sudden interference.

Dahmer is soon arrested for molesting a thirteen-year-old boy, but leaves after spending a year in a correctional facility. When asked to move out of his grandmother’s house, he moves into the infamous Oxford Apartment, where he kills 12 of his victims, including the brother of the boy he had molested earlier.

Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story (2022) Netflix miniseries ending explained:

Has justice been done?

After his arrest, Dahmer confesses to all of his crimes and effectively receives life in prison. Lionel is devastated, but accepts the idea of ​​capitalizing on the whole thing by writing a book and making money from it. Inside the prison, Dahmer begins to receive letters and money from people who revere him as a sort of hero and are drawn to his darkness. Dahmer turning into this kind of cult and near-celebrity afflicts both the victims’ families and the prison’s black inmates. He is stabbed by one of these inmates, but soon recovers. Dahmer decides to undergo baptism to wash away his sins and “be saved by God”, which Lionel likes. Ultimately though, Dahmer meets his fate when he is beaten to death by inmate Christopher Scarver.

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Dahmer. Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story. (left to right) Evan Peters as Jeffrey Dahmer, Richard Jenkins as Lionel Dahmer in Dahmer episode 108. Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2022

After Dahmer’s death, Lionel and Joyce enter a legal battle over whether to preserve his brain for further analysis and research or destroy it. The verdict goes in Lionel’s favor and to honor Dahmer’s wish, he is destroyed.

Glenda pushes into a park on the site of the now-destroyed Oxford apartment in memory of the victim and she declares that she is willing to wait while she is breathing. However, it is revealed in the end credits that no parks or memorials were built at that location.

The biggest question that arises here is whether justice has really been done?

Whereas Dahmer was arrested and ended up in jail, in the broadest terms he was. But the amount of endless pain and suffering that the victims’ families had to go through indicates otherwise. Because of Dahmer, the people in the Oxford apartment were forever traumatized and ended up having to move. Glenda had to live with the memories of the stench from Dahmer’s apartment and also of not being able to save the 14-year-old from the monster despite trying her best.

Even after all he did, Dahmer still received quite decent treatment from the police and authorities for being a white male, while many of the victims’ families were harassed and harassed due to their skin color. Being brutally murdered at Scarver’s hands, a true black man believing in God seems like a form of poetic justice. For the victims’ families, knowing that Dahmer isn’t breathing in the world they live in is a huge relief after all.

Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story (2022) Netflix miniseries review:

One of the biggest problems with most serial killer movies/shows is the unfortunate glorification of the controversial character and justification of his action. In that context, this miniseries ends up being a revelation, as it refuses to give the main character any kind of cool scene or captivating dialogue. This strips him of any sort of glamor and presents Dahmer as a character who is being dissected for his action.

What makes this series even better is how it effectively becomes the story of the victims and Glenda, who emerges as the true hero of the story who is really trying to save people from Dahmer. This is further established by introducing Glenda’s character before Dahmer in the first episode and ending the final episode with her as well. In one of the episodes, Tony Huges’ life is explored from his birth to becoming one of his victims. This is a smart way of telling stories and a clear indication of who should be supportive.

Dahmer. Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story. (left to right) Richard Jenkins as Lionel Dahmer, Molly Ringwald as Shari, Penelope Ann Miller as Joyce Dahmer in Dahmer episode 108. Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2022

There couldn’t be a better actor than Evan Peters to play this role. Peters plays the role with a constant expressionless face and a somewhat insensitive attitude that prevents the audience from feeling bad for him or sympathizing with himself for a single second. This is a huge achievement for any actor. Along with Peters, Niecy Nash and Richard Jenkins deliver scene-stealing performances. Molly Ringwald as Sherry and Penelope Ann Miller as the older Joyce also shine. Needless to say, the writing, directing, cinematography and editing of this series are absolutely on point.

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Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story (2022) Netflix miniseries

What is the overall impact of the show in the context of today’s world?

The best thing this show has managed to achieve is not holding back in the shackles of a regular serial killer story. As much as it’s about Dahmer, it’s also about white privilege, racism and how a whole system and people are being affected differently by it.

There’s one scene in particular where we see Glenda Cleveland desperately trying to save a fourteen-year-old boy from Dahmer, but Officer Balcerzak and Gabrish are constantly ignoring her and taking Dahmer’s side mainly because he’s a white man. These two officers end up getting suspended, but they soon return to their work and even receive a heroic welcome after returning. In a rather gruesome twist, we see these police officers anonymously threatening the family of the child who was murdered because of their disability. This is extremely frustrating to watch, but perhaps that’s the main point. Dahmer is a psychopathic monster who deserved it, but there are monsters walking among us who will always enjoy their privileges.

Dahmer’s white privilege is further established when a white judge looks at him from a very sympathetic perspective despite molesting a child. On the other hand, even after receiving an award for citizen merit, Glenda Cleveland is still harassed by the police, and her daughter is arrested only for damaging the camera of two white men who were taking pictures of the Oxford apartment for their own amusement.

The primary purpose of any art form is definitely creative expression, but when the content is as sensational as Dahmer’s story, there’s a certain responsibility. Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan realized that part completely and managed to do something that raises all the right questions, and makes audiences rightly uncomfortable and angry about the world they live in, even in the context of modern times.

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Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story (2022) Show links – IMDB, wikipedia
Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story (2022) Cast – Evan Peters, Richard Jenkins, Molly Ringwald, Niecy Nash, Khetphet Phagnasay
Where to watch Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story

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