In Dementia, George (Gene Jones, The Hateful Eight and The Sacrament) is an aging ex-soldier haunted by memories of Vietnam and struggling to reconnect with his estranged son and granddaughter. But when he suffers a stroke and is diagnosed with dementia, George is left in the care of Michelle (Halloween's Kristina Klebe), a seemingly sweet nurse with a disturbing dark side. At the mercy of a psychopath with a hypodermic needle, George becomes a prisoner in his own home, caught in a sadistic game of cat and mouse as brutal as anything he experienced in Vietnam. In his feature debut, director Mike Testin masterfully keeps the tension mounting — until it explodes in delirious violence.
I'm always curious to see what a first time director puts out into the world on their first outing, particularly in the horror/thriller genre. So many times, we see things fail with very few instances of something that truly succeeds and stamps the future of this first time filmmaker. That brings us to Mike Testin, a first time feature film director with his movie 'Dementia'. Despite a few flaws, I'd say Mike Testin is one indie filmmaker to look out for, especially in this horror realm, because 'Dementia' keeps the suspense high and the terror flowing throughout the entire film with some rock solid performances by everyone in the cast.
On the other hand, there are a few issues with the film, mainly being the final act and the choice to explore a different route, rather than go down a scarier or even more horrifying path than what was decided upon. Still, this film works and should be a pre-cursor to a promising film career. The movie follows an older man named George (Gene Jones, most recently from 'The Hateful Eight'), who is a war hero, but in his later years has become a mean son-of-a-gun. In the first few minutes of the film, George has a stroke, which the doctors also tell him he has dementia.
His son Jerry (Peter Cilella) and his granddaughter Shelby (Hassie Harrison) try to convince him to stay in an assisted living home for his health and safety, however a nurse from the hospital by the name of Michelle (Kristina Klebe) comes by to check on him. Michelle tells Jerry that she could offer a live-in nurse scenario as a less expensive route than the assisted living option, which Jerry agrees to. This is where George begins to have night terrors that flash him back to his war experiences as a POW, which makes him an uneasy and difficult patient. It seems that his dementia worsens as time goes by, as he wakes up covered in blood or finds headless animals in his house.
This is where George starts to think that his new live-in nurse Michelle might be sadistically injecting him with dangerous drugs to torture him. Testin starts out with the question of, "Is George really crazy or is someone really out to get him?" This is a great plot arc, but I wish Testin followed this plot-line out more thoroughly, and Meredith Berg's script tends to hit you on the nose too hard with the melodrama and explaining things too clearly, instead of exploring the mystery and terror of the situation.
Gene Jones delivers an excellent performance here. His struggles are realistic and fantastic to watch as his transformation begins and ends. The suspense flows nicely, however at a certain point, the filmmakers just wanted to explain everything, and leave nothing up to the audience to chew on. Still, 'Dementia' is a solid first outing.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Dementia' comes with a 25GB Blu-ray Disc and a DVD copy of the film that is Region A Locked from Scream Factory. There is no insert here, but the cover art is reversible.
'Dementia' comes with a 1080p HD transfer and is presented in 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The overall look to 'Dementia' is cold. There are not a lot of warm colors here, which keeps the tone of the film in check. Colors look a little pale and muted, but I think that's for effect here and not unintentional. Exterior shots looks crisp in color with all the primaries standing out, but in the interior of the dark household, things look a little grayish. Some scenes have a yellow tone to them as well, but that is just in certain particular scenes to tell a story.
Detail is fairly vivid and sharp throughout. Closeups reveal facial features nicely, such as individual hairs and wrinkles, as well as some textures in the costumes. Wider shots rarely turn soft. Black levels are deep and inky for the most part and skin tones are a little muted, but that's due to the color contrast here. There were no major issues with any aliasing or banding, leaving this video presentation with solid marks.
This release comes with a lossless DTS-HD 5.1 MA mix, which is on the front heavy side of things. The sound effects pack a punch when they need to and sound quite loud if not startling. The older house has some great effects with wood floors creaking and doors slamming, which the surrounds pick up on nicely. Ambient noises are quite good, especially during the flash back sequences to Vietnam.
The bass kicks into high gear during the more suspenseful moments of torture and terror without ever going into rocky territory. The dialogue is crystal clear and easy to follow, and is free of any pops, cracks, hiss, or high shrills, leaving this audio presentation with some solid marks. There is also an option for a DTS-HD 2.0 stereo mix.
Theatrical Trailer (HD 2 Mins.) - Trailer for the film.
'Dementia' won't win any awards here, however it should be noted that Gene Jones does some of his finest work in this movie, but the film as a whole succeeds. This is a good first outing by director Mike Testin with a solid story, characters, and suspense. It just doesn't follow the horror or most suspenseful path that could have made it truly memorable and one the modern great horror films. Still, Testin is one filmmaker to watch out for. The video and audio presentations are both good, however the only bonus feature here is a trailer, which stinks, because there could have been some fun behind the scenes moments or interviews with Gene Jones. Give this one a rent.