Evan Peters has a knack for delivering stellar performances as various evil/disturbed men, and his portrayal of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer in Netflix series Dahmer – Monster: the Jeffrey Dahmer Story is astounding. Dahmer has always been a fascinating individual due to the fact that he did not behave like other serial killers after his capture.
Before we dive into Dahmer, let’s talk a little about Evan Peters prior roles. He is, of course, mostly known due to his participation in nine seasons of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story. He has portrayed characters as diverse as Tate, the high school student gunman in Murder House, Kit Walker, who was falsely accused of killing his wife in Asylum and multiple roles as various cult leaders in Cult. In Cult alone, he played Jim Jones, Charles Manson, Andy Warhol and Jesus Christ himself!
In 2007, he appeared in An American Crime as Ricky Hobbs, who participated in the torture and eventual murder of teenager Sylvia Likens. Based on a true story, An American Crime was a disturbing account of the atrocities Likens suffered, and Evan Peters, as usual, gave a great acting performance.
Though he skipped season 10 of AHS, and will also not appear in the upcoming 11th season, Peters once again worked for Ryan Murphy on Dahmer. The series has received mixed reactions from critics and viewers, with some claiming it tries to garner sympathy for the killer. For the record, the storyline did not make me sympathize with the murderer, though I did feel a bit for Dahmer as a small child, ostracized by his peers and largely ignored by his own mother.
In fact, Dahmer himself did not ask for sympathy, and this is where he differed from most apprehended serial killers. Immediately after his capture, he cooperated with authorities, answering their questions candidly and refraining from the typical killer’s tendency to try to charm and manipulate. He said there was something wrong with him, and he had been that way since he was a child. He almost seemed relived to be imprisoned, where his ability to abduct, kill and sexually assault young men was completely taken away.
Evan Peters’ performance is absolutely chilling, and his willingness to portray acts that make the viewer feel squeamish serves him well as an actor. As Dahmer, Peters has to convince us, among other things, that he gets sexual satisfaction from torturing his victims, and that’s something that’s difficult to watch.
Evan Peters must have studied Dahmer extensively.
It’s a carefully tailored performance by Peters, who mastered Dahmer’s almost monotone vocal delivery, punctuated by his angry outbursts and bouts of drunkenness.
Dahmer shows the many instances where the killer could have (and should have) been caught. In one case, one of his intended victims escapes and is aided by a neighbor (Niecy Nash), who calls the police. Unfortunately, the boy is so affected by the drugs given to him that he is unable to answer questions, and Jeff claims he is 19 and his boyfriend. In fact, he was only 15, but the cops believe Dahmer and allow him to take the boy back to his apartment, where, of course, he was killed.
In another, Jeff is pulled over by the police for swerving all over the road due to his drunkenness, but the cop feels sorry for him and sends him home. That’s too bad, because he has a dismembered body in the vehicle.
In both of these instances, Peters plays his character as only slightly concerned at being caught, and in his usual state of calm. Honestly, that’s probably the only reason the killer was able to remain uncaught for so long.
Although the series left me feeling slightly dirty after watching it, I was awe struck by Evan Peters performance. I can’t wait to see what he is going to do next.
What do you think of actor Evan Peters’ performances in disturbing projects? Tell us about it in the comments section.