DEMENTIA 13 (2017)

PrintE-mail Written by James Evans

Back in 1963 Francis Ford Coppola got his break into mainstream film through Roger Corman and the quickie Pyscho knock-off Dementia 13, which he wrote and directed (mostly). This 'remake' follows to some degree the basic template of that original, updating it a little for today’s busy VOD market. It’s a horror-tinged twist on the old ‘rich family with dark secrets’ tale.

The Halorans are a wealthy family blighted by the death of one of the four children, Kathleen, in a drowning accident as a young child. Each year the matriarch Gloria returns to the ‘castle’ (big country mansion) they used to all call home to hold a ceremony for her lost daughter. Her son Johnny has brought his not-entirely-on-the-level wife Louise with him, while uptight daughter Rose has brought her similarly straight-laced hubby Dale along. Other daughter Billy shows up with her hipster-hippy boyfriend Kane in tow, and also hanging around is long serving handyman Arthur. It’s not long before seedy criminals, murder and the possible spirit of the angry Kathleen start to peel away the secrets the family have kept for years.

Coppola was working at a time when many producers and studios made cheapie versions of the big hits of the day. It’s not an unreasonable assessment of his official debut that his basic calling card is not exactly Apocalypse Now. These days there’s a hell of a lot of VOD and straight to supermarket DVD chart films out there, and this version of Dementia 13 is no Apocalypse Now either. Of course, that’s a ridiculous comparison for what this film is trying to achieve, so let's say it’s no The Conjuring. What it does is try and throw in a few separate strands and knit them all into a coherent whole. But the home invasion-meets-family-secrets-meets-haunting approach means none really stand out.

Still, in the scheme of these things, the performances vary from okay to fine; it’s only 80-ish minutes long and inoffensive enough. It’s relatively competently made and what little budget they had to use they spent on the right parts of this film. Sure, nothing really pops in it and despite an occasional effective moment it’s pretty bland stuff, but there’s much worse out there of this type of release. We know that’s damning it with faint praise but that’s about the best we can do. If you do manage to catch this, you’re not likely to be thrilled but you’ll probably not hate it either. By no means is this inessential or worth seeking out, but overall, it’s alright for what it is.

DEMENTIA 13 (2017) / CERT: / DIRECTOR: RICHARD LEMAY / SCREENPLAY: DAN DEFILIPPO, JUSTIN SMITH / STARRING: JULIA CAMPANELLI, CHANNING PICKETT, STEVE POLITES / RELEASE DATE: 6TH OCTOBER (USA); UK RELEASE TBA



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