"My Friend Dahmer," a biopic of infamous serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer — who raped, murdered, dismembered, and in some cases cannibalized 17 men and boys from 1978 to 1991 — is one of the most buzzed-about films at this year's Tribeca Film Festival.
Part of the reason it has people talking is its unusual approach to the story of the killer, focusing on Dahmer's teen years.
Another reason the film is considered a must-see is the lead performance by former Disney star Ross Lynch as Dahmer. Lynch, best known for his work on Disney Channel's "Austin & Ally" and in the Disney Channel Original Movie "Teen Beach Movie," told Variety he got into character partly by staying in Dahmer's childhood home during filming.
"When I arrived, I felt comfortable," he remembered. "This is going to sound weird — it was almost like I was home.”
Admitting he bears a "scary" resemblance to the so-called "Milwaukee Cannibal," Lynch also told Variety, "I wanted to show a sympathetic version of what happened to him," but was careful to note, "I don't think it's a celebration."
Lynch's youngest fans may want to sit this one out — Lynch admits, "If you’re a 10-year-old fan or a little younger, maybe this isn’t the right film for you." — but he credits the movie with helping him stay focused on his career.
"When I was doing the majority of the Disney stuff, I was always thinking, 'What’s next?'... I knew there had to be something [else]. I didn’t want to go off the rails and start partying," he said. "When 'Dahmer' came along, it was the perfect opportunity to really immerse myself in that role and hint at what I’d like to do in the future."
Based on the acclaimed 2012 graphic novel of the same name by Dahmer's childhood friend Derf Backderf, "My Friend Dahmer" does not yet have a distribution deal, but the future for the dark film is sunny thanks to all the media interest.
It was probably a good sign that the film's premiere Friday night attracted a sold-out crowd that included Malia Obama, who is interning for The Weinstein Company.
"My Friend Dahmer" has three more screenings before it wraps its run at Tribeca.