It was on October 1st, 1968, that a young George A. Romero would forever change the face of horror with his low-budget feature film Night of the Living Dead. The movie would prove to be a worldwide phenomenon, drawing incredible numbers at the box office and quickly rising to become one of the most profitable horror pictures ever made. At the time, nobody had seen anything like it before, and the film left audiences absolutely terrified. Cut to over fifty years later, and Romero’s zombie classic still holds up as one of the greatest horror movies to have come out of the 20th century–a fate which will not be true for Dementia: Part II.
Since then, there has been a veritable horde of imitators that would try to follow in its shambling footsteps. Over the years, the zombie has transformed into a pop culture darling and near-parody of what it once was. Almost every available form of media has become oversaturated with the living dead, and the genre has sadly crossed the line into becoming tired and boring. It may not be a popular opinion, but it is simply how I happen to feel about it. It also serves as an explanation for why Dementia: Part II didn’t move me.
The story follows a parolee named Wendell (Matt Mercer), who works as a handyman to fulfill his employment requirements for continued release. After being assigned to assist an elderly woman (Suzanne Voss) with some household repairs, Wendell slowly realizes that something isn’t right with his new client. Suzanne appears to be suffering from dementia, causing significant impairment to her short-term memory. When coupled with the less-than-subtle hints at her strange and unsettling past, it causes many uncomfortable situations between the two. As Wendell struggles to finish the task at hand, things soon a drastic turn for the worse. It is eventually revealed that not only is Suzanne a little bizarre – she’s also dead.
Right off the bat, you can tell that Dementia: Part II was a passion project on the part of its directors, which is something that I can certainly respect. There are several little nods throughout to other horror films, indicating a clear appreciation for the genre. The performances given by the cast are generally decent, with the only exception being that of Suzanne Voss, who truly lit up the screen with her stunning portrayal of the undead Suzanne.
Although the actors do make a valiant effort, they sadly can’t rescue the film from its substandard writing. The dialogue feels clumsy and awkward, almost by design, and most seasoned horror fans will be able to guess how the entire plot unfolds within the first twenty minutes. It is also profoundly disappointing that they chose to go in the creative direction that they did with the film. I feel that there were so many other, more compelling avenues that they could have gone down. So, while the movie may have started on a strong note, it would ultimately fizzle out before finally coming to its astoundingly weak conclusion.
4.5 out of 10