DIRECTOR: Mike Testin
George Lockhart is an elderly war veteran who after breaking up a fight on his lawn between a couple of neighbourhood kids, he suffers a terrible stroke. With the advice from his estranged son and grand-daughter. He decides to hire a live-in nurse to help him around the house and with his dementia. Appearing to be normal at the start, it slowly descends into a nightmare for George as his live-in nurse harbours a very dark secret and seeks revenge for a past crime that she believes George has committed.
Looking at the poster for Dementia. You'd be mistaken for thinking this is possibly an Academy award-contending drama about an old man suffering from dementia where his lovely live-in nurse is there to help him with his biggest challenges. I expected a weepy melodrama. In reality, it's a dark and sometimes bloody thriller about revenge and murder. So colour me very surprised when I went in expecting one thing and got something completely different. Certainly not the movie I was expecting which sadly wields both negative and positive results.
The movie begins with our protagonist as a young man in a hellish war situation. The flashback reveals that George was caught in a pretty awful situation where two of his fellow soldiers may have lost their lives during the war. Cut to the present day, where George is now an elderly man who is still suffering from the nightmares from his past. He continues to move forward with his life and doesn't take grief from people. Gene Jones who plays George is the heart of this film and for a vast majority of it's running time, you sympathise with the character.
Once we're introduced to our live-in nurse Michelle, we get a sense of dread almost immediately. She plays nice for all of roughly two minutes. This is where we begin to see cracks that reveal a dark and evil nature. I really quite enjoyed Kristina Klebe in the role of Michelle. She plays both the kind-hearted nurse and what initially appears to be this hellbent and evil revenge seeking woman very well. For the vast majority of this film's running time. You love to hate this woman and believe that she is actually insane. It's a very dynamic performance.
Where Dementia gets points for me is that twist. The twist comes kinda late in this game of cat and mouse, but I honestly wasn't expecting it. I've read a lot of reviews that said it was predictable but I didn't catch on myself. You can call me dumb all you want, but I assumed the film would end up being a horror film about a nurse who has a thing for killing her patients. I didn't guess the reason behind why she was doing it coming to light. I just went on believing that she was a thrill kill kind of girl. Maybe I wasn't paying attention and missed that scene early on, who knows?
The twist in Dementia me made me question my loyalty to the movie's protagonist. It completely switched things up. Instead of being a run of the mill story about a killer nurse. We got a tale of revenge. Was the twist original? No. But for me, I didn't see it coming as mentioned above so for that, it gets a few points. I think by films end, you are rooting for this elderly war vet to survive and when the twist comes to light, you finally see his despicable crime and begin to root for the supposed villain of the film. For me, the questioning of who should survive and who was the real villain was the winning element of this movie.
With all the good news out of the way. Dementia has some significant problems. The film's climax and the final showdown are utterly ruined due to the film's score. Even looking at all the reviews for the film, 100% of the audience found they had the same problem. Right when the war vet is revealing his dark side to our villain. The score is so loud that it drowns out his entire evil confession. We sit through close to an hour and twenty minutes of a movie to have a twist and the revelation ruined by the score. You end up not hearing a single thing. This is a huge problem and one that loses the film a lot of points. It all feels like it was for nothing.
Is Dementia scary? I didn't find the movie scary or suspenseful. The only time that the film really kicks into gear is in the final showdown. The twist is easily the most shocking part of the story for me. As I didn't see the twist coming, I ended up being taken aback by it. It's not scary by any means but feels more like a punch in the gut. The film also delivers some pretty brutal violence. Imagining a drama and getting a dark and somewhat bloody thriller, I was also surprised by the bloodshed on display.
Lastly, the pacing of Dementia is also a significant issue for me. I don't mind a slow burn thriller or horror, but this movie felt a lot longer than an hour and a half. This is a movie that dragged a lot. At times I was getting quite bored with the film. The only times that I felt the film excelled was when Kristina Klebe was dishing out her brand of revenge and justice. Kristina Klebe and Gene Jones really do make this movie watchable during their interactions. If you decide that you should watch it, do it for the performances and the little twist at the end.
DEATH TOLL: 5
BLOOD AND GORE:
- A decapitated cat.
- Someone is shot in the head with a rifle.
- A bloody corpse.
- Someone is strangled and shot in the stomach.
- Someone has their head bashed in with a hammer.
- A ghostly vision of someone chewing open their wrists.
What I initially perceived to be a drama was, in fact, a thriller. While the movie was more of a miss for me, I still found a few things that I quite enjoyed about the film. The two central performances and the twist that I feel dumb for not seeing early on. The film's issues stem from an ending ruined by the film's own score and a plodding pace. The film almost feels like it was made for the Lifetime network. Take that as a compliment or a negative depending on your views of Lifetime.