Chattanooga Film Festival Movie Review: DEMENTIA: PART II

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Written, directed, edited, and produced by Matt Mercer and Mike Testin, DEMENTIA: PART II demonstrates midnight movie making at its finest. The plot follows Wendell Miska (Matt Mercer) a recent parolee looking for odd jobs to remain out of prison. After being notified by “Handy Man Inc.” for an available plumbing job at a seemingly sweet old lady’s house, Wendell becomes a pawn in the hands of dementia-induced Mrs. Goldblum and soon realizes that he may have gotten more than he bargained for.

Having its world premiere at the Chattanooga Film Festival this past Friday, DEMENTIA: PART II seems to be a facetious sequel to Mike Testin’s 2015 thriller, Dementia, which houses serious plot points surrounding chronic disorders and horrific secrets. The creation of this sequel is rather brilliant, as it completely juxtaposes its predecessor to switch gears to depict new characters and settings through a dark comedic perspective. It’s as funny as it is vile, and is packed with enough gross out humor to make you look away while simultaneously continuing to watch. 

I find so many elements about this film to be very impressive. Not only was it shot and created within the duration of a month, it incorporates numerous recognizable talents mixed with an enjoyably bizarre script that’s nightmarish in nature. Actress Suzanne Voss (who was also in the first Dementia) steals the show with her portrayal of Mrs. Goldblum. What a powerhouse talent, with the capabilities to switch gears flawlessly from a simple old lady to a raving madwoman. She takes this role to the next level and demonstrates sheer believability of memory loss and confusion. Voss really provides the notion of unstable fear that grows heavier and more apparent with each scene, leaving you feeling just as confused and uncomfortable as everyone else in the film seems to be. 

Also starring Graham Skipper, Najarra Townsend, and Matt Mercer himself, each role seems perfectly chosen to create a diverse cast of characters. You really do feel for Wendell, as he’s constantly getting into bad situations with bad (or crazy) people. Played by Skipper, his parol officer, Reggie Bilford is an oppressive sleaze ball set out to make Wendell’s life a living hell. It’s fun to see Skipper tackle a villainous role which is equal parts hilarious and appalling. Najarra also knocks it out of the park as Sheila, Mrs. Goldblum’s (fake) daughter who, like Wendell, is also just trying to survive and get by. 

A great film will hold your attention and keep you guessing, and DEMENTIA: PART II definitely succeeds in that arena. Everything about this film is on-point and offers a good look into how to successfully create a great midnight movie with limited time and funds. It really shows what Mercer and Testin are capable of, providing their audience with a unique story that’s garnished with comedic gold and vomit-inducing sequences. I highly recommend checking this out, as I have no doubts that it will be touring the nation in festivals throughout the year. 

Abigail Braman