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Dementia (Blu-ray Review)

DementiaA disabled war veteran is in bad hands when his family hires the live-in nurse from hell in the intense psychological shocker Dementia. This compellingly creepy film makes its Blu-ray and DVD debut May 17th, 2016 from Scream Factory, in conjunction with IFC Midnight. Fans can pre-order their copies now by visiting ShoutFactory.com.  In his feature debut, director Mike Testin masterfully keeps the tension mounting — until it explodes in delirious violence.

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George is an aging ex-soldier haunted by memories of Vietnam and struggling to reconnect with his estranged son and granddaughter. But when he suffers a stroke and is diagnosed with dementia, George is left in the care of Michelle, a seemingly sweet nurse with a disturbing dark side. At the mercy of a psychopath with a hypodermic needle, George becomes a prisoner in his own home, caught in a sadistic game of cat and mouse as brutal as anything he experienced in Vietnam.

Dementia is slow burning thriller having you guess in some multiple directions with characters wondering if things will flip flop or stay as status quo with early assumptions.  The film takes its time, but fills things with characters relations and histories to build their depth.  Mike Testin has perfect pacing and timing to add the moments of horror or a scene of thrilling intensity right in the correct spots and spaced far enough away from each other to keep a nice flow.

Our two leads in the film are pretty terrific.  Gene Jones is someone that every director should be trying to get in their film.  He was fantastic in The Sacrament and continues good work here as the character with the title’s illness.  Jones plays around the carousel with grumpiness, paranoia, anger and fear flawlessly.  Surprisingly matching him is Kristina Klebe (who also served as the casting director on the film).  Klebe’s only work I was familiar with was a sort of average turn in Rob Zombie’s Halloween.  Klebe is pretty impressive here and is able to play both sides of her character with such ease.  Here’s hoping she keeps getting some more work (though from my reading she seems to be more interesting in behind the scenes work).

Mike Testin’s thriller is a pretty good little movie.  As a theatrical film I think it may fall a little short of some expectation, but take this as a sort of TV movie, and its actually pretty terrific.  Its  a very low budget, low key film. It has that look to it, too (I’m not saying that’s bad).  The flashbacks in the film make it a hair predictable, but things still work beyond that.  Honestly, if you’re curious on checking out a more suspenseful little horror thriller with twists and turns, this could be a good time passer.

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Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Clarity/Detail:  Dementia comes to Blu-ray with a very nice look to it that’s not quite on the level of outstanding but its on its way to it.  The film has a very natural and cold feel to it and the image carries it with some grace.  Details are quite good, displaying texture and patterns on clothing as well as a fine appearance of the finished wood that is abundant throughout the house (gloss, fingerprints, grain patterns).  On skin you can make out veins and the distinct markings of tattoos.

Depth:  Some good slightly above average dimensional work in the moving image.  Spacing is above average and every person moves freely and loosely with an originally naturally feel that’s trying to mimic a cinematic feel.

Black Levels:  Blacks are pretty splendid here in this image.  There are a lot of dark rooms in the film and it does good with shadows and shading.  There are some nice silhouettes and outlining of people and objects in the really dark moments.  No crushing witnessed. 

Color Reproduction:  The film has a cooler look to it and the colors all are a bit held in check, in a good way.  They all appear solid and feature a wide array of palettes.  The red light on George’s front porch is about the most that stands out.  There is a yellow filter on a number of scenes as well.  Greens look very nice as well and particularly in the Vietnam sequence.  Finished wood in the film has a nice rustic and bold touch to it.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones have a colder look to them like the colors and maintain a consistent appearance throughout the film.  Facial details are solid, revealing moles, stubble texture, wrinkles, dimples and the like.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

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Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English, Spanish

Dynamics:  This is a solid 5.1 mix that feels nice a loose.  You’re provided with a great 2.0 track as well that covers everything very well.  This features a good distinct and life-like portrayal of the film’s main house setting.  The foley and sound effects are well rounded with a crisp clarity that makes it feel like you’re right in the room.  There is also a neat echo to the house that feels genuine with all the woodworking present (floor, trim).  

Low Frequency Extension:  The subwoofer is very active during the torture sequences.  There are some doors shutting and some bumping that picks up a boost but most of the activity is left to emphasizing the big intense section of the score.

Surround Sound Presentation:  This is a more front-heavy mix.  The rear speakers aren’t ignored, but they are more focused on ambient sound.  They appear more active and louder during the Vietnam sequences.  Front speakers provide a good depiction of sound placement accurate to a character’s position as well as tracking movement well.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is loud and clear.  The house where most of the film takes place provides a natural slight echo to the character’s voices.  There are a few moments where the deep strings in the score are bit overbearing on the vocals, but its minimal and really only distracting in one scene.

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Dementia comes with a DVD Copy of the film as well as promotional imagery on the reverse side of the cover.

Trailer (HD, 2:04) 

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Summary Dex-1Dex-1Dex-1Dexter-0Dexter-0

Dementia was a solid little afternoon thriller for me when I took a look at it.  It features a nice pace, twists and good performances from its two top billed players.  Take it as a kind of TV movie and its really good in that aspect.  This Blu-ray release features some good audio and video, but lacks in extras.  I’d say this is good for a rental or on your streaming service for sure, but check it out before you’d make the full purchase.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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