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My Friend Dahmer (2017) - Plot Summary Poster

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Synopsis

  • The film opens on the school bus. As it drives along, it passes some road kill on the street. One of the students, Jeffery Dahmer (Ross Lynch) notices and stares at it intently. In another row, John "Derf" Backderf (Alex Wolff) is trying to draw the bus driver but is not satisfied with how it turned out. On the sidewalk, a man jogs, catching Dahmer's attention. He gets up and stands at the back of the bus and watches the jogger out of the window. The bus driver sees him and tells him to sit back down. Dahmer does so, reluctantly.

    Arriving home, Dahmer sees his mother, Joyce (Anne Heche) who is talking to an interior decorator that is apparently going to redo their house. The man has cerebral palsy and Dahmer begins to imitate him. Joyce tells him to stop it.

    Dahmer is walking down the road with a bag in his hand, when two kids on bikes come up to him and ask what he has. Dahmer tells them it is the body of a dead cat and shows them. They ask what he is going to do with it, and Dahmer replies he is going to dissolve it in acid. They don't believe him, so he says he will show them.

    In a shed on his family's property, we see that Dahmer has plenty of dead animals in jars. He places the cat in the jar and explains to the boys that his father is a chemist, though the acid he has is pretty weak so it will take about a month to dissolve it fully. One of the boys asks him why he does this.

    "I like bones. They interest me," Dahmer says.

    The other boy calls bullshit on Dahmer's claims, saying that the jars probably have nothing but muddy water in them. Dahmer then takes one of his jars outside and smashes it on the ground, spraying acid and dissolved animal on the ground. The boys gag and flee, calling Dahmer a freak.

    Dahmer has dinner with his mother, his father Lionel (Dallas Roberts) and his younger brother David (Liam Koeth). The dinner is frantic, with everyone talking over each other. Dahmer tries to take a chicken leg but is told to give it to his brother, despite his preference for dark meat. Dahmer asks his father if he could get stronger acid to use and his father says he'll see what he can do. His parents ask about tennis, and Dahmer tells him he told them that ended a week ago, but that he is still in marching band. David notices that the chicken meat is red (and thus not cooked through) and his father confirms it. Joyce is less than happy, thinking they are rejecting her cooking and lays down the law:

    "New house rule; we eat our mistakes," Joyce says and the dinner continues.

    In class the following day, John makes a scene in science class and is forced to sit with Dahmer. Dahmer eyes a fetal pig in a jar.

    At lunch, Dahmer speaks to one of his only friends about a concert of a band they both like. A senior makes an announcement for prom, while Dahmer's friend is attacked by a bully.

    At home, Dahmer watches his parents fight. His mother claims she is going back to work, while his father says she just got out of a mental hospital and is in no condition to do so. David also witnesses this and Dahmer comforts him, saying their parents just fight sometimes.

    We see Dahmer at band practice.

    Afterwards, Dahmer leaves, and sees his friend, only for two bullies to attack him. The friend calls out to Dahmer, hoping to deflect attention, but Dahmer just walks away, not wanting to get hurt himself.

    Lionel returns home and asks David where everyone is. David tells his father that he doesn't know where his mom is and Jeffery has been in his "Lab" for hours.

    Lionel drags a trash can to the shed and bursts in while Dahmer is working. He starts grabbing the jars and throwing them into the trash, despite his son's protests. Lionel tells his son that enough is enough and that he needs to be more social and more active in his life. Lionel tells him he intends to destroy the shed for good. As he leaves, Dahmer sulks.

    At school, Dahmer is approached by Lloyd Figg (Miles Robbins) the school's drug dealer. He tries to sell Dahmer some weed. Dahmer seems open to it and searches his pockets and pulls out a bag. Figg asks about it, and Dahmer says he collects road kill but is "trying to quit." Figg says he can help him with that if he wants and says he'll see him around.

    Lionel lives up to his promise and tears down the shed. Dahmer digs through the wreckage and recovers a few animal bones.

    Rolling the bones around his hand, Dahmer sits out by the road and watches the jogger run by, watching him intently.

    In his room, Dahmer is confronted by his father, who apologizes for his rash behavior involving the shed. Lionel explains that he sees a lot of himself in his son, and it is the parts he doesn't like, such as his introversion. He just wants his son to be more social, to have more from life than he did. Lionel presents his son with a gift; some weights so he can work out, and maybe get a girl's attention. As his father leaves, Dahmer scoffs, and pushes the weights under his bed. Yet, we next see him doing reps, getting stronger.

    Dahmer is in the woods, making a rock trap, with a stick, rope, and bait. He waits for a squirrel to go underneath and pulls the rope, crushing it.

    Time has passed. It is now the beginning of Jeffery Dahmer's Senior Year of High School. The year is 1978.

    In history class, Dahmer is asked why history is important. He says he doesn't know. The teacher presses him, and Dahmer continues to say he doesn't know, eventually making up a voice to say he doesn't know, as if he was mentally retarded, getting a brief laugh from the class.

    In the auditorium, auditions for a play are being done. Dahmer is apparently supposed to sing. Dahmer leaves, opting out completely.

    Realizing he is noticed when he "spazzes out", Dahmer begins to do it in the hallway to get attention. He gets the attention of everyone in the hall, at least until the bell rings. During his latest bout of acting out, John and his friends, Neil (Tommy Nelson) and Mike (Harrison Holzer) take notice of Dahmer and find him hilarious.

    John decides to invite Dahmer to his friend's table. They tell him they think his little outbursts are funny and they want to make a "Dahmer fan club." Dahmer smiles, glad to be getting attention, and perhaps even friends.

    In the library, Dahmer begins to make noises. A teacher hears it, and proceeds to blame other students for the disturbance, never suspecting Dahmer. Later, the boys join Dahmer, spazzing out in the hallway.

    At home, Dahmer tries to tell his mother that he has friends coming over. Instead, he sees Joyce rifling through her bag for cigarettes and pills in a manic state. Dahmer asks why she is doing that, and that he thought she stopped taking those pills. He asks if she is going back to the doctor, but she scoffs at that, saying he just told her what to do, just like Dahmer is doing to her right now.

    In his room, Dahmer begins to hyperventilate; freaking out that his family is slowly falling apart.

    When John and Neil arrive, he shuts the door and claims his mother is sleeping and cannot be disturbed. When Neil asks if Liz, an alumnus of their high school still lives on Dahmer's street, they go there. Neil knocks on her door and pretends to be a reporter for the school paper. He then asks her how it feels to know the best years of her life are behind her. Insulted, the girl slams the door in his face. John breaks down in laughter.

    In class, John is drawing when a girl asks him, "Is Dahmer your muse?" John doesn't know how to respond. The girl says maybe John could draw her sometime and he agrees. Dahmer says he could draw the girl and tells her to lie down on the ground and he makes a chalk outline around her to the laughs of the class.

    John, Mike and Dahmer go fishing. John notes that if they happen to catch anything, they have to throw it back given its small size. Dahmer catches a fish so John gives him a knife to get it off the line and back into the water. Instead, Dahmer stabs the fish several times, cutting it open. A shocked John asks why he did that.

    "I just wanted to see what its insides looked like," Dahmer replies.

    John, though horrified, just tells Dahmer to get rid of it.

    Later at school, John, Neil, and Mike are trying to think of an epic prank for the yearbook (as Neil takes the photos used). Dahmer speaks up and says he has an idea; that he should be placed in every club photo despite the fact he is in none of them. John and the group think it is a brilliant idea. Dahmer is placed in every photo. While everyone smiles, he has a flat, monotone look on his face.

    John comes over one day to hang out with Dahmer. Unfortunately, Lionel and Joyce are fighting and take no heed that their son has a friend over. Joyce even incorrectly calls John by a different name. Dahmer is embarrassed by his parent's behavior and John quickly leaves.

    Dahmer continues to stalk the jogger that runs by his family's property.

    John works at a supermarket. One day Dahmer comes in with Mike and does his spaz routine, making noise, throwing food etc., eventually shoplifting an item when the manager tries to confront him. John later pulls the group aside, saying he almost got fired due to Dahmer's antics and notes that can no longer do Dahmer's routines in public. Dahmer agrees.

    As they are about to leave, Dahmer's jogger drives in. It turns out he is Dr. Matthews (Vincent Kartheiser), a local doctor who knows the parents of several of the boys as patients. Dahmer notes Dr. Matthews jogs by his house every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. John scoffs at Dahmer's attention to that detail.

    Dahmer goes home to see his parents fighting again. His mother has bought a car they cannot afford without his father's consent. His dad tries to talk to him but does a poor job of it and walks away. Dahmer notices his dad left a bottle of liquor and takes it. He begins to drink profusely.

    Later, Mike and John run into Dahmer who tells them he quit band. Figg comes up to them and shows them a knife his father had. John warns Dahmer to stay away from Figg. Dahmer ignores him and goes out into the forest one day with Figg. Figg has a revolver he has stolen from his father. He fires a round at a squirrel then spins the barrel, before putting it to his head and pulling the trigger, the chamber empty. He implores Dahmer to play a round of Russian roulette, spinning the barrel again. Dahmer refuses to do so, and for good reason. Seconds later, Figg pulls the trigger of the gun and a bullet fires.

    Dahmer starts arriving late to class. John notices that he is constantly drunk.

    Dahmer finds road kill of a possum on the road. He takes it and dissects it, examining its entrails.

    John shows Dahmer new drawings of him. Dahmer smiles at them.

    On the class trip to D.C., Dahmer is paired up with the only black guy of their class. Dahmer begins to ask questions about how different they may be inside, then stops when he realizes he is getting too weird.

    Despite this, Dahmer is able to get John, Mike, and Neil, and a few others into a once in a lifetime opportunity the next day. Claiming to be school reporters from their high school paper, Dahmer arranges a meeting with the aide to the Vice President. Amazingly, the group is able to cross paths with the VP getting a few minutes to talk with him. The VP asks the group what they want to major in after high school. When he gets to Dahmer, he replies, "Biology.

    When he gets home from the trip, Lionel is there to pick him up. Lionel tells his son that he moved out while he was gone and it was better for everyone. "It'll be amicable," he says, referring to his eventual divorce from Joyce.

    Joyce speaks to Dahmer asking if he wants to talk about what is happening. He says no.

    Dahmer goes to see Dr. Matthews, claiming to have a cold. Dr. Matthews gives him a complete physical, and says he is fine. The meeting is tense though, given Dahmer's strange obsession with him.

    Later, Dahmer masturbates to the memory of being touched by Dr. Matthews.

    Dahmer is seen striking a tree with a large stick, coming apart from the various problems in his life.

    Dahmer hangs out with the group, though they are largely ignoring him. When the discussion turns to best friends, Dahmer speaks up, noting, "I wish I had a best friend." John is shocked, forgetting Dahmer was even there.

    The next day at school, Neil begins to question their friendship with Dahmer, wondering if they are treating him badly and just using him for their own amusement. John dismisses those concerns, saying they are only having fun, and Dahmer would not put up with it, if he wasn't having enjoying himself.

    Dahmer continues to binge drink.

    The yearbook photos come in and Neil and John laugh at Dahmer being in every one. However, a teacher notices him, and literally uses a sharpie marker to blot him out of the photos.

    Dahmer listens to his mother argue with her divorce lawyer on how he is handling her case. "If he gets the house, I get Dave," Joyce screams.

    Dahmer pulls a dog into the woods and takes out a knife, intending to kill it. He doesn't go through with it, and ultimately chases the dog away.

    Dahmer and his brother are driven by their mother to meet with their father. However, the two get to watch their parents argue and their mother assault their father. Dahmer watches with coiled, cold anger.

    Dahmer paces his room, muttering to himself, inconsolable at his life falling apart. He then gets on his bed, hugging a dead body. However, this is only in his mind.

    Dahmer becomes even more distant with his family and friends, going deeper into his diseased mind.

    John, Mike, and Neil decide to do one final "Spaz" incident with Dahmer, as a means to go out with style. They get a bunch of people to chip in to pay Dahmer to do it, and a classmate to film it. Dahmer agrees to do it. On the way to the mall, he quickly downs several beers, surprising and concerning John.

    At the mall, Dahmer is given some more money and as he is filmed, begins to act out. He makes loud noises, flays his body around in weird contortions, follows customers, and throws plates of food inside a restaurant. The group laughs at the antics but the camera follows closely on Dahmer as we see in his face that the longer he does it, the less fun it becomes and it slowly dawns on him how he is being used by kids that don't care about him. He later rejoins the group who tell him he made a great performance.

    Dahmer waits outside the road one day with a bat, obstinately waiting for Dr. Matthews, who does not jog by. In an impotent rage, Dahmer strikes his bat against a tree until it breaks in two.

    Two kids are walking in the forest when they find an eviscerated dog. The high school buzzes with rumor on who did it.

    Prom is approaching. John, Mike, and Neil are discussing it and one of them says no one would go with Dahmer. Dahmer hears them say that. He then proceeds to convince a freshman girl, Bridget, to go with him. She says yes, on the condition that he doesn't act weird in any way. He promises to be on his best behavior.

    Dahmer goes to prom with Bridget. Neil notices him and brings him to John's attention, shocking the trio, which was Dahmer's intention all along. Dahmer tries to be a gentleman, and get Bridget some punch to drink. Neil comes up to him and apologizes to him for how they treated him. Dahmer takes the apology stoically. Dahmer eventually asks Bridget to dance. On the dance floor, he sees John and offers congratulations. When John asks what for, Dahmer replies that they "made it" (meaning graduating high school). John takes it awkwardly. Dahmer tells Bridget that he has to use the bathroom. Instead, he ditches her and goes to get fast food and eats it in his car alone.

    The last day of school ends. While everyone is excited about graduating and for the future, Dahmer leaves the school emotionless.

    At home, he sees his brother packing up the car. David and Joyce are going to see his grandmother, even though they will miss his graduation. Joyce claims it will be okay since his father will be there and they cannot be in the same room together. Dahmer goes inside and knocks over some furniture before falling to the ground and sobbing.

    Dahmer graduates. His father tells him he is proud of him and gives him a car for a graduation present.

    John goes to pick up his last paycheck from the supermarket. On the way home, he sees Dahmer walking home alone. He offers him a ride, which Dahmer accepts. John notices his bloody hands. Dahmer claims it is paint. John is not at ease but tries to keep the conversation normal, asking about school. Dahmer says he will be going to Ohio State, while John will be taking Art Classes in Pittsburgh.

    When they get to his house, Dahmer asks if he wants to hang out, but John says he has to get home. He then comments on their time with Dahmer saying they were just having fun. Dahmer seems to agree but still presses for one beer.

    "One beer and all is forgiven," Dahmer says.

    John agrees, but is unnerved that all the lights in the house are out, and that Dahmer's father isn't home. As he walks in, Dahmer walks up real close to John, freaking him out. John claims he has to get home and quickly moves to his car. Behind him, Dahmer walks with a bat, intending to strike him, but John gets into his car quickly. As the engine turns over, Dahmer quickly hides the bat and watches John drive off, John not realizing how close he was to a violent end.

    Dahmer wakes up hung-over from a night of drinking. He grabs a six pack of beer and goes off driving in his car. Driving around, he sees a man hitchhiking. Dahmer stops and asks the man if he was just leaving a local concert. The man says yes and says he was trying to head back to Akron. Dahmer offers him a beer and the opportunity to party some more. The man says sure and introduces himself as Steven Hicks and Dahmer says his name is Jeff. They drive off.

    Title cards state that Steven Hicks went to Dahmer's house on June 18, 1978 and was never seen again. He was Dahmer's first victim. In 1991, Jeffery Dahmer was eventually caught and confessed to the murders of 17 men.

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