Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Film Review: Dementia (2015)

Dementia (Review)
United States/2015
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"It started off promising, but it slowly crumbled before it reached its weak ending."

George Lockhart (Gene Jones), an elderly war veteran, is forced to live with a peculiar live-in nurse after he's diagnosed with dementia.

Dementia is a horror-drama film with a basic narrative. After defending a bullied child, George has a stroke on his lawn. His estranged son and granddaughter, Shelby (Hassie Harrison), rush to his side. George is diagnosed with dementia and his son begins to look for a nursery home. But, wait! Michelle (Kristina Klebe), a nurse from the hospital, drops by to offer her support. So, she's hired to take care of George. All is well for about a minute, then Michelle's shows her true colors. Unfortunately, it doesn't really pack any surprises because it's very blatant about Michelle's intentions, which means the ending was predictable from the beginning. And, as for the ending, it felt underwhelming. I know it was trying to hide hard, but it felt rather weak.

In fact, Dementia was underwhelming as a whole. The story was interesting, sure, but it just wasn't very effective. I know it's a film and I'm supposed to suspend belief, but this one felt too far-fetched. There are so many questionable decisions, it really left me baffled. Obviously, these characters are purposely dumb in order to move the plot forward – convenience, right? You have a nurse who is obviously unhinged – partly due to the writing, partly due to the acting – but no one seems to notice or care for example. Don't forget: this nurse was hired without any vetting. The story also feels too long, which hurts the pacing. This feels like a decent short film stretched into an often dull feature-length movie. I enjoyed George's character, I liked the concept of the story, and there were some chilling visuals/scenes, but it doesn't offer nearly enough to warrant a ~85-minute runtime.

Gene Jones, who also starred in The Sacramanet, is stellar, though. His performance is consistent, immersive, and powerful. Kristina Klebe was okay, certainly not the worst I've ever seen, but she overacted quite a bit. I was searching for a sense of dreadful mystery – is it dementia or is she up to something? – but Klebe's overdone performance reveals all within the first act. Hassie Harrison plays the generic 'I steal my grandpa's pills, I'm so edgy' teenager – she was okay. The film looks good, too. Dementia is written by Meredith Berg and directed by Mike Testin. I think this would have been a great short film, but Berg couldn't fill the gaps with engaging conflict. Furthermore, the blatant plot contrivances make this feel like a first draft. Testin offers competent direction, but he doesn't conjure much suspense or emotion.

Overall, Dementia is a disappointing film. It started off promising, but it slowly crumbled before it reached its weak ending. (Emphasis on 'slowly' because of its slow pace.) There are some interesting tidbits scattered throughout, but it's not enough for the 90-minute runtime. If you're interested, I recommend streaming it on Netflix. Otherwise, I'd forget about it.

Score: 4/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and blood.

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