An odd documentary that mixes recreations, archive footage, and contemporary interviews, Jeff is plenty fascinating even if it doesn’t commit to a progressive structure enough to earn theatrical real-estate. Built on commentary by a mere three people involved with the case at the time of Dahmer’s arrest and confession, the talking heads do have compelling stories that cut well into the decidedly reserved recreations. In said reenactments, the period is well captured by a muted, 90s broadcast cinematography that — along with costuming — goes a long way despite obvious anachronisms.
Still, one can’t help but feel like the doc sits on the very slick, well-produced end of the History Channel spectrum and would have been better served committing to a more free-form poetic approach of capturing the frenzy surrounding his arrest.
Director: Chris James Thompson
Screenwriter: Andrew Swant, Joe Riepenhoff
Principal Cast: Andrew Swant, Pamela Bass, Dr. Jeffrey Jentzen, MD, Patrick Kennedy, PhD
In 1991 Jeffrey Dahmer was arrested in Milwaukee and sentenced to 957 years in prison for killing 17 people and dismembering their bodies. “Jeff” is a documentary that explores the city of Milwaukee by meeting those surrounding Dahmer during and after his hidden spree. Recollections from Milwaukee Medical Examiner Jeffrey Jentzen, Police Detective Patrick Kennedy, and neighbor Pamela Bass are interwoven with archival footage and everyday scenes from Dahmer’s life, working collectively to disassemble the facade of an ordinary man leading an ordinary existence.