I’ve seen films that were made to make money, to deliver a message and even as art. But Dementia: Part II may be a first, it was made on a dare.
A film festival in Chicago called Cinepocalypse held their first annual event last November (2017), and they reserved a slot for an unmade feature-length film. In a nutshell, they challenged us and the producers at BoulderLight Pictures (Raphael and JD) to conceive, finance, shoot, and finish a feature film, script-to-screen, in literally 5 weeks (beginning the day the festival announced their schedule) and see if something could come of it. Whatever we made, they promised to show it in that slot.Matt Mercer and Mike Testin co-directors of Dementia: Part II
And make it they did. Dementia: Part II is a shot in black and white with pitch-black humour and a touch of gross-out comedy that runs just over an hour. It’s also totally unrelated to the original Dementia although the two do share some cast and crew members. But, is it actually funny?
Wendell Miska (Matt Mercer, The Toybox, Artik) is out of jail on probation. That probation is in danger of being revoked apparently due to his inability, or unwillingness, to find and keep a job. A call from Reggie (Graham Skipper, The Leech, All the Creatures Were Stirring), his probation officer, motivates him to pick up a gig with a handyman agency.
Sent to do some plumbing work for Suzanne Goldblum (Suzanne Voss, The Lords of Salem, Dementia) he has no idea what he’s in for. Alternately bribing him to do increasingly bizarre tasks with hundred dollar bills and threatening him with her late husband’s M-16 it’s obvious she’s not all there.
Dementia: Part II starts out as a dark and fairly twisted comedy but there’s nothing especially gross or horrific beyond a bit of blood in the prologue. Things rapidly become complicated though. First with the arrival of Sheila (Najarra Townsend, Portal, Contracted) who claims to be Suzanne’s daughter and the almost psychotic Reggie. Then with the realization that dementia is the least of the old woman’s problems.
Mercer and Testin lead us along through Dementia: Part II’s early stages dropping clues as to what’s to come. The story of Suzanne’s husband (“He was a Mountie you know”) and his death, the collection of M-16s, and a scene of her eating raw meat. Just enough to let you know things are going to get messy eventually.
It also does the rather difficult task of making Wendell, an ex-con who is quite happy to take advantage of a senile old woman somewhat likeable. Or at least not entirely hateable. A solid performance by Mercer certainly helps with that. The same is somewhat true of Townsend’s character and performance. She’s obviously not who she claims to be, but she is a little more sympathetic than Wendell. And compared to Reggie they’re practically saints. Skipper is great as the domineering to the point of unhinged power tripping parole officer.
The performances in Dementia: Part II are all good but Voss’ really stands out. She has to constantly shift between a chatty old woman, an overaged sexpot, gun-toting psycho and a full-on flesh-eating monster. And she manages to make each of these at least somewhat sympathetic.
And once the hangry side of Suzanne appears the film does indeed get quite gross. But it’s not to the degree advanced word had me expecting. I was expecting more of a Braindead/Evil Dead/Rabid Grannies kind of bloodbath. Dementia: Part II is actually much more of a black comedy with a solid dose of gore near the end than a true gross-out.
Dementia: Part II is still a funny film, you just have to temper your expectations on just how gross it gets. If you can do that, and have a taste for dark humour, you should love this.
Dark Star Pictures and Bloody Disgusting will release Dementia Part II in theatres on May 21st, and on VOD, Digital HD and DVD on June 1st. You can check Dark Star’s Facebook page for details.