Stephanie Filo talks about her difficult editing work for Dahmer

Stephanie Filo talks about her difficult editing work for Dahmer

She explains that she cut scenes to avoid arousing public sympathy for the serial killer…

Would serial killers have become Netflix’s new stars? Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, Charles Sobhraj (The snake), Aaron Hernandez (Killer Inside), Charles Manson or Edmund Kemper (in the thriller mindhunter signed David Fincher) and now, Jeffrey Dahmer… All have inspired successful series or documentaries, “true crime” in jargon.

Among the biopics that have flourished on the platform in recent years, there is one that you could not miss: Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story. Adapted from the true story of Jeffrey Dahmer, the miniseries features the actor Evan Peters (awarded at the Golden Globes), impressive in the title role of the serial killer condemned in 1992 for having killed (drugged, raped, dismembered…) 17 young men at his home.

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Between curious categorization under the tag LGBTQ+ (on the grounds that most of the victims were homosexual black men), accusations of morbid motivations on the part of the producers and capitalization on the suffering of the families of the victims (who would not have been contacted by Netflix prior to production), Dahmer however, received very bad publicity… Which did not prevent the series from ryan murphy (which has made psychotic horror its signature since American Horror Story and more recently Ratched And The Watcher) to become a global phenomenon, one of the most viewed on the platform.

Many, however, denounced the side “glamour” of the series and its scenario which would have participated in “romanticize” the sordid story of the Milwaukee cannibal. The director had moreover justified himself on this subject by assuring that he had not been interested in the individual but in the “monster he has become”through the prism of issues of white privilege, systemic racism and homophobia.

Dahmer on Netflix angers families of victims

From the gloomy apartment of the cannibal reconstructed in the darkest details (the heads in the refrigerator, the bloody tools of all kinds, the smelly barrel of hydrochloric acid…) to the Polaroids of dismembered bodies more real than life, not to mention the scenes of murders that gave us cold sweats… would the series have turned into an unhealthy obsession?

It is clear that she takes up the challenge by creating such a malaise. If it makes you feel so much disgust, it is also thanks to the brilliant post-production work of Stephanie Filo, the editor of the series. This year, his editing talent not only triumphed at the Emmy Awards for Dahmerbut also for A Black Lady Sketch Show from HBO and History of the World, Part II from Hulu. In an interview published in The Hollywood Reportershe admits that her biggest challenge was to work on Dahmer :

“It was very heavy to work with, as you can imagine. With my collaborator, we called each other at the beginning and end of the day to check in and make sure everything was fine. My biggest concern was to transcribe the story as respectfully and authentically as possible. I watched so many documentaries, read books, listened to music that sounded like the tone of how we were trying to put the show together.”

During the editing, she claims to have ensured that the public did not feel any sympathy for the murderer. A large part is however devoted to his past, to his first experimental dissections, to the divorce of his parents and to his social difficulties… During an interview granted varietyshe returned to one of the scenes of episode 4, when the young “Jeff” Dahmer returns from the army to have dinner with his parents at Christmas:

“This scene was meant to be played in full, but it felt too heavy for the family dynamic,” she reveals before explaining having thought long and hard about the mounting cutouts available to her to better support the darkness of the individual “That in-between and the weird things he did helped to contextualize the horrific events that were happening, instead of keeping the focus on a guy hanging out with his parents.”

She also remembered the laborious work of the trial sequences and their strong emotional charge. Filo felt a great responsibility to respect everyone involved and to stand up for their statements. Despite these efforts, one sequence in particular has however been disputed, that of the sister of the victim of Jeffrey Dahmer. For the family directly concerned and many critical spectators, it is therefore difficult to differentiate between the archive and fiction and to establish their limits…

Dahmer, on Netflix: what is true, and what was invented for the series

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