“Dementia” is a well crafted thriller
Written by: Meredith Berg
Directed by: Mike Testin
Accomplished cinematographer Mike Testin’s first venture into feature length directing had me raising my eyebrows, when I first heard of it. Gene Jones (The Sacrament) playing a Vietnam vet, suffering from dementia, and going toe to toe with his malicious live-in nurse (played by Kristina Klebe who was so so good in last year’s “Proxy”)? It sounded to me like the promise of something good. Well, Testin and writer Meredith Berg delivered a thriller that did not disappoint, and have me excited to see where each of them go from here.
When George (Jones) suffers a stroke, he begins to suffer signs of… you guessed it… dementia. His estranged son Jerry (Peter Cilella) and the granddaughter he has never developed a relationship with (Hassie Harrison) show up to temporarily care for him, but when a nurse shows up suggesting in home care Jerry jumps at the opportunity to have his duties handed off to someone seemingly more capable.
Before long, George realizes Michelle (Klebe) may not be what she says she is. He realizes he has to do something about it, but that proves difficult given his condition. When Michelle and George’s violent past boil to the surface, secrets are revealed and bad things happen. Fortunately for George, his granddaughter has a bad feeling about Michelle and goes digging for answers.
First off, I will say that the film’s look and feel are wonderful. Thanks to the capable directing of Testin and a tight script from Berg, the film never loses it’s taught intensity. Even during the few moments of calm, you sense that something horrible is about to happen, which makes the film a blast to watch. Jones and Klebe are exceptionally good and become more so throughout the course of the film, as the game of cat and mouse escalates. Jones does an incredible job, dancing between vulnerable and sinister. It is quite impressive to watch. Peter Cilella and Hassie Harrison also do a fine job, and nicely round out the cast. All in all, my only real complaint would be that the ending is a little too predictable. Aside from that though “Dementia” features an amazing performance from it’s lead and is a solid indie thriller, not to mention a strong first time showing from Testin. You can watch the trailer for the film below.