Conversations with a Killer: The Jeffrey Dahmer Tapes Review 2022 Tv Show Series Cast Crew Online
February 7, 2023

Conversations with a Killer: The Jeffrey Dahmer Tapes Review 2022 Tv Show Series Cast Crew Online

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Conversations with a Killer: The Jeffrey Dahmer Tapes Review 2022 Tv Show Series Cast Crew Online

Monster – Dahmer: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story might be controversial, but there’s no denying the Netflix series has captured peoples’ attention. The series dominated the streamer’s top 10 in the week after its release, even as family members of his victims spoke out against the show. Now, there’s Conversations With a Killer: The Jeffrey Dahmer Tapes. This three-episode docuseries purports to offer more insight into the twisted mind of one of America’s most infamous serial murderers. Instead, it delivers a grim catalog of horrors that centers the killer at the expense of those he killed.

Monster – Dahmer: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story attempts to walk a tricky line. On the one hand, it’s a portrait of a killer. On the other, it’s an examination of the lives of his victims and the institutional failures that allowed him to get away with his crimes. But the Ryan Murphy series sometimes feels more exploitative than insightful, a problem that is amplified in Conversations With a Killer: The Jeffrey Dahmer Tapes.

“I felt like I was Clarice Starling in Silence of the Lambs,” Dahmer’s attorney Wendy Patrickus says early in ‘Sympathy for the Devil,’ the first of the docuseries’ hour-long episodes. It’s a throwaway line, but one that gestures at the enduring fascination with Dahmer. The Oscar-winning Lambs was released just a few months before Dahmer’s arrest. It focused on a cunning, erudite serial killer with a taste for human flesh. At the time, people were keen to draw comparisons between Anthony Hopkins’ terrifying character and the real-life “Milwaukee cannibal.” The connection may have even helped the movie clean up at the Academy Awards, the Los Angeles Times noted.

But as this docuseries demonstrates, Dahmer was no Hannibal Lecter. In recordings of his extensive conversations with Patrickus, what emerges is a picture of a disturbed man with little understanding of – or perhaps little willingness to disclose – what motivated his behavior.

“I wondered why I was compelled to do all the murders,” he tells his attorney after she asks what he was thinking. “What I was searching for that would fill the emptiness that I felt.”

The Jeffrey Dahmer Tapes is the third entry in Netflix’s Conversations With a Killer series. (Earlier installments focused on John Wayne Gacy and Ted Bundy.) It seems to want to figure out “what made [Dahmer] tick,” as Patrickus says in episode 3. But it never provides a satisfactory answer to that question, perhaps because there isn’t one. Dahmer was undoubtedly damaged in some fundamental way. But any mental illness he may have had does not excuse his horrific actions.

Dahmer’s detached, unemotional descriptions of his crimes are chilling. They suggest, as his attorney Gerald Boyle observes, that he had no remorse for what he did. But Conversations With a Killer lingers on the idea that a lonely man’s pathological fear of abandonment led him to kill, hinting that he was powerless to resist his deadly desires. When it chooses to emphasize the long spell between his first killing in 1978 and his second murder nearly a decade later (which Dahmer insists was not premeditated) or his attempts to sublimate his urges through religion, the series comes close to painting him as a victim of forces beyond his control. Occasionally, there are references to his ability to charm, manipulate, and deceive those around them. But the Dahmer of director Joe Berlinger’s series comes off more as a passive actor in his own life than a frightening predator.

The Jeffrey Dahmer Tapes struggles to produce meaningful insight into its subject’s psychology. But it succeeds in delivering lurid details about Dahmer’s crimes. We see the contents of the freezer where he stored various body parts (thankfully, concealed within paper and plastic). There are also photos of the skulls of those he killed, and brief, blurred glimpses of the Polaroids he took of his victims. We learn that he showered in the same bathtub where he stashed corpses. At one point, he describes in detail his grisly efforts to transform 14-year-old Konerak Sinthasomphone into a zombie he could keep alive for his own uses. It’s true-crime rubbernecking at its worst.

Ultimately, the most compelling parts of The Jeffrey Dahmer Tapes are when Dahmer isn’t speaking at all. Unsurprisingly, no relatives of the victims participated in this project. But reporter James Causey provides context into how the racial dynamics in Milwaukee helped Dahmer get away with murder. Other segments highlight how his crimes reverberated through the city’s small gay community, where everybody knew everybody else. Police weren’t interested in seriously investigating crimes against gay men (especially gay men of color), even as people began to vanish without a trace. The AIDS crisis also allowed Dahmer to operate undetected.

“Dahmer has a rare opportunity, a rare window in time where people were vanishing in the community but no one knew why,” Michail Takach, the curator of the Wisconsin LGTBQ History Project, points out. That’s a potentially interesting story that might offer a fresh perspective on the Dahmer case. But it’s not explored in much depth.

“It’s important to get this right,” one interviewee says as the series draws to a close. “To talk about this in a way that gives dignity to these victims.” Unfortunately, The Jeffrey Dahmer Tapes mostly fails to do that.

Conversations with a Killer: The Jeffrey Dahmer Tapes Review 2022 Tv Show Series Cast Crew Online