If you ever wondered what it would have been like if Neil Breen had made a Dahmer biopic in the 1980s, then here it is. The Secret Life: Jeffrey Dahmer, with its The Firm (1993) poster, was released only two years after the notorious serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer was caught. Some would say that would be in poor taste. I think I’m one of them.
The film is weird. It doesn’t really have a story or an arc, just a showcase of filmed scenes inspired by things the screenwriter heard in the Dahmer trial. It’s almost like a montage of “Dahmer gets a guy home, Dahmer drugs or hits the guy on the head with something, Dahmer kills the guy in some way.” In-between murder scenes we have scenes of Dahmer going about his day, talking to his grandmother, etc.
It has the same vibe as so many direct-to-video films of the early 80s, only made in the 90s. There is no real production behind it or real actors in it. Carl Crew, the actor who portrays Dahmer, is hopelessly miscasts. Dude looks like he just came off a surfboard most of the time.
Dahmer narrates the whole things. Gives his musings. His intentions. He never meant to kill anyone. Things just happen. It’s stupid and sleazy that it makes the film work, for some weird reason. It’s so cheap and tawdry and that’s really all Jeffrey deserved. It feels like something you shouldn’t be watching. It’s dirty and sad, just like Dahmer. It’s like something a friend of your found in the woods, without being all-in Cannibal Holocaust (1980) disgusting.
For a better Dahmer film, watch the one starring Jeremy Renner.