It takes six episodes for “Dahmer — Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story” (sure, that’s certainly the present’s full title) to meaningfully increase past the scope of both the serial killer or Evan Peters’ portrayal of him. In that episode, “Silenced,” directed by Paris Barclay and written by Janet Mock and David McMillan, the story of Dahmer sufferer Tony Anthony Hughes involves the forefront. Tony (performed with heat appeal by “Deaf U” alum Rodney Burford) was a gregarious aspiring mannequin with a giant coronary heart. He was Deaf, Black, homosexual, an awesome dancer. His associates and mom (a shifting Karen Malina White) beloved him very a lot. With each second Burford will get to offer Tony new life, the inevitable finish of “Silenced” turns into all of the extra harrowing, and the cops’ inaction to search out the reality all of the extra infuriating. However because the present’s nonsensical maze of a title suggests, this episode is an exception fairly than the rule. In any other case, Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan’s new Netflix sequence is a grim, sepia-toned slog that hardly ever justifies its personal existence.
On the floor of it, Murphy enlisting his go-to actor Peters to painting one of the crucial infamous serial killers isn’t in any respect a shock. Alongside longtime collaborator Ian Brennan, “Monster” provides Murphy the chance to mix parts of “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” (additionally a couple of homosexual predator chasing loneliness with violence) and “Ratched” (the grotesque “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” prequel sequence that gave an origin story to an notorious villain). Peters, affecting an unnervingly flat Wisconsin accent, will get to offer yet one more perturbing efficiency. However two years after the challenge was first introduced, the surprise-drop rollout of “Monster” is… muted, to say the least. No episodes have been out there to display earlier than premiere; no stars current to interview, from Peters to Niecy Nash to Molly Ringwald. There was no premiere, no celebration, no pomp nor any circumstance. Not even the accompanying “Jeffrey Dahmer Tapes” — the “Conversations Wth a Killer” follow-up to Netflix’s earlier Ted Bundy sequence — dropped alongside “Monster” as may need as soon as been anticipated. As Murphy’s monumental Netflix deal appears to be like set to fade into the ether, so, too, do his last initiatives for the streamer.
Then once more: even given all the eye on the planet, “Monster” wouldn’t have earned the hype. Like “Versace,” it begins in the direction of the tip of the story earlier than rewinding to indicate how “Jeff” got here to be, in scattershot flashbacks. Murphy and Brennan’s scripts hammer dwelling the present’s most blatant themes with such blunt drive it’s a surprise some scenes bought previous the primary draft stage. Jeff’s mother and father (Richard Jenkins and Penelope Ann Miller, doing their greatest) struggle in weeping clichés. Jeff wheedles his victims in each episode with fixed pleas for them to not go away as a result of he’s “uninterested in everybody leaving me.” (Abandonment points, get it?) In actual fact, given the historical past of Murphy’s oeuvre, essentially the most stunning factor of “Monster” is likely to be its relative restraint relating to gore. The small print of Dahmer’s crimes are largely left as much as the creativeness, or else the creeping rating doing all it might to construct enough suspense.
Whereas realizing (or a minimum of hoping) that Murphy and Brennan aren’t attempting to engender sympathy for Dahmer, it’s egregious nonetheless that a lot of this present is dedicated to watching Peters’ Dahmer self-flagellate for being “bizarre” as if reenacting the serial killer model of Jughead’s now infamous “Riverdale” speech. (Dahmer: “I’m not a standard man; I’m bizarre; I don’t slot in”; Jughead: “I’m bizarre; I’m a weirdo; I don’t slot in.”) Then, after spending six episodes (of 10) detailing Dahmer’s psychological profile and murders, the again half of the sequence turns to the aftermath of his arrest and the righteous fury the sheer horror of his transgressions impressed.
This consists of many makes an attempt at underlining precisely how Dahmer may get away with so many astonishing crimes whereas the marginalized communities he trafficked in — significantly queer, Black areas — protested the apparent unease surrounding him. If there was a narrative value telling right here — and that’s a giant if, given the onslaught of true crime overwhelming tv nowadays — it was this. And but, regardless of the detour of “Silenced,” these essential moments are largely rendered in two-dimensional platitudes that hardly ever go as deep as the topic requires. Not even the formidable Nash, so good as Dahmer’s suspicious neighbor, can do a lot to alter that. For as a lot as “Monster” makes strikes to decenter him in its last episodes, it’s nonetheless “The Jeffrey Dahmer Story,” in spite of everything.
If you wish to see Peters struggle internalized homophobia by fondling a model, masturbate to reminiscences of gutted animals, or solemnly fry up a human kidney, I suppose this present is right here for you. Past that, although, it merely can’t rise to its personal ambition of explaining each the person and the societal inequities his crimes exploited with out turning into exploitative in and of itself. The story of Jeffrey Dahmer has been advised over, and over, and over once more. This model, regardless of its status trappings, has little else so as to add.
“Dahmer — Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story” is now out there to stream on Netflix.