Mike Testin directed relatively serious film called Dementia in 2015, but this Part II – which Testin co-wrote and co-directed with star Matt Mercer – is a standalone, farcical shaggy dog horror story which manages to be amiable and tasteless at the same time.
Slacker parolee Wendell Miska (Mercer) is trying to keep his metaphorically rabid probation officer Reggie Bilford (Graham Skipper) from sending him back to jail by working as an odd-job man. He turns up at a suburban home to sort out a blocked sink, and finds himself in a whirlwind of a relationship with Suzanne (Suzanne Voss) – who has a goldfish memory and mood swings, and keeps him on site by tipping him with hundred-dollar bills. She monologues about the Canadian manliness of her late husband (whose red mountie uniform is the only splash of colour in a monochrome movie) and inveigles Wendell into dancing with her to ‘Red Sails in the Sunset’ (feeling up his ass at the time) … but is also prone to thinking he’s an intruder in her house and shooting at him with one of the collection of assault rifles her husband has left lying about the place. Sheila (Najarra Townsend) arrives after Wendell has had a hectic afternoon, claiming to be Suzanne’s daughter – but Wendell has noticed her face has been stuck into framed family photos and pegs her as another chancer who is exploiting the old lady’s shaky memory while angling for the stash of cash from which Suzanne fishes those hundred-dollar bills. Eventually, Reggie shows up too and goes into asshole overdrive. What none of these folks have noticed is that Suzanne isn’t just suffering from Alzheimer’s but is literally rabid, from her husband’s bite, and furthermore has cannibal gut-munching tendencies.
Voss, who was in Demented in a less demented role, is a long-time bit player (The Lords of Salem, Contracted Phase II) and bites into this meaty lead as if it were the part she’d been awaiting all her career – it’s down to her that Suzanne isn’t just a grim joke on a par with the leads of Rabid Grannies, and the old woman’s romantic inclinations aren’t simply ridiculous. Suzanne veers all over the emotional map, sometimes so sweet and vulnerable that even the useless grifters feel bad about ripping her off, sometimes so cunning and calculating that they almost sense they’re being lured deeper into her daffy world, and sometimes frothing, bloody-mouthed maniac. Everyone else is good, but they have to cede centre screen to Voss. Testin and Mercer get extra points for smartly wrapping it all up inside 68 minutes – with a gruesome punchline and funny ‘what happened next’ cards.
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