Friday, December 04, 2015

Dementia: The Aging Psycho Vietnam Vet

The Vietnam War ended forty years ago, but politically correct filmmakers still can’t let it go. At this point, Vietnam veterans are looking to retire and enjoy their golden years. Yet, even as senior citizens, they still have exploitation films coming out of the woodwork to suggest they were really just baby killers all along. Following in the unfortunate tradition of shlock like Motorpsychos and The Ravager, Mike Testin’s offensive Dementia piles it on when it opens tonight at the IFC Center.

George Lockhart was a decorated POW during Vietnam, so obviously he must be kind of nuts. For years he has lived alone in the home that he built, sort of like Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino, but with a blacker soul. However, when he suffers a stroke, Lockhart’s estranged son and the granddaughter he hardly knows arrive to do their duty. For her part, Shelby would sort of like to get to know the old cuss, but Jerry Lockhart can hardly wait to leave. However, when Michelle the friendly RN comes to check on the recuperating Lockhart (seriously, a house call in this day and age?), son and granddaughter hire her pretty much on the spot to be his home care nurse. References, who needs them? Except maybe it would have been a good idea to do a little checking up on her.

Soon Michelle is drugging the already disoriented Lockhart and blaming him for the murder of small animals. Why would she be so vicious? Maybe it has something to do with the clumsy flashbacks that periodically beat viewers over the head. You think maybe old George has it coming?

There is no getting around the fact this film denigrates the service of American veterans. After watching the unpleasant inevitability come to pass, most viewers from the heartland and pro-military communities will be disinclined to try anything further from Testin and screenwriter Meredith Berg, with good reason. Frankly, they are so intent on scoring their points, they completely telegraph each twist, so the film consequently lacks any sense of suspense or intensity. Instead, we are just marking time until the big comeuppance.

This is crying shame for many reasons, including a decent lead performance from Gene Jones that is totally wasted. Jones was absolutely electric in Ti West’s Jim Jones-inspired The Sacrament, which in many ways is the complete inverse opposite of Dementia, so cult film fans should catch up with it instead. This film simply does not deserve your support when opens tonight (12/4) in New York at the IFC Center.