Dementia Part II Movie Review
Written by Joel Harley
Released by Boulderlight Pictures
Written and directed by Matt Mercer and Mike Testin
2018, 66 minutes, Not Yet Rated
Frightfest European premiere on 25th August 2018
When a desperate parolee takes a job as a handyman for elderly dementia patient Suzanne, things don't exactly go as he might have expected. While the benefits include generous cash tips and not being in jail, he finds it harder to deal with Suzanne's confusion, violent outbursts and her alternately hitting on him and dying all the time. What's an ex-con to do?
This low-budget comedy horror is a sequel in name only (to Mike Testin's more dramatic Dementia), knocked together in one month by directors Testin and Matt Mercer. Mercer also stars as the unfortunate ex-con, his sympathetic, put-upon performance giving echoes of Josh Stewart in The Collector. This performance is as rushed and semi-amateurish as everything else about the film, but similarly charming too. Made for a challenge, as a bit of fun, Dementia Part II should be treated as such. This is almost as indie as indie cinema gets, filmed in black and white and set in one location with only a handful of characters.
Which isn't so say that Testin and Mercer don't give it their all; the blood flows freely, the gags roll hard and there's a nicely weird edge to the story and its imagery. The jokes don't always (or often) land and occasionally the story doesn't even make sense, but this shabby chic and infectious enthusiasm makes Dementia Part II a hard film to dislike. Rolling in at barely an hour, it'll be over before you know it.
An unfortunate side-effect of the swift runtime is that it starts wrapping up just as it hits its stride. Comparisons to Braindead and Drag me to Hell are going to accompany this one wherever it goes, and rightfully so – as the film enters its Grand Guignol last act, the boundaries between homage and theft become increasingly blurred. At the same time, its own knock-off version of Evil Dead 2's Henrietta could well be better than the one they actually featured in Ash vs Evil Dead. Original it may not be, but it's a great deal of fun, and the action/body horror beats work like gangbusters in comparison to its hit-and-miss first half.
Dementia Part II was made on a shoestring budget in a matter of weeks – and it feels it, from the scrabbled-together character motivations to the rushed, awkward performances (Suzanne Voss aside, who is excellent). But for its enthusiasm and its ballsiness, it's an inspiration, and is worth it for the hilariously grotesque final act alone. It's a confused, screeching gross mess, but we love it all the same.
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