Mara Fabre (Nora Aunor), a middle-aged woman suffering from dementia—a mental disease notorious for serious long term memory loss—moves back to her province, Batanes, in the hopes of retrieving her memory. Assisted by her remaining family, Mara returns to her remote life but instead of recovering, she sees bizarre visions which her niece, Rachel (Jasmine Curtis Smith), eventually also witness.
The hallucinations are apparently linked to Mara’s past demons that have come back to haunt her. Dementia then unfolds as an attempt to thrill and scare through the gradual revealing of details of Mara’s dark back story.
For all the “horror” its stirring trailer sets it up, Dementia torments where it doesn’t intend to. For his debut film, former TV5 creative and entertainment boss Percy Intalan’s eagerness to translate his cinematic ambitions reflects in Dementia, which partly works for and partly fails the film. The director, who recently ventured into film from TV, utilized his actors to their potential. The scenes, despite a few inconsistencies, come off strikingly dramatic, which is telling of Intalan’s technical background.
Sadly his whole artistic vision for the film crashes mainly due to a flimsy plot that fails to be its own horror story. Dementia is a hodgepodge of horror flicks we’ve all seen before. The execution and its attempt to incite terror is nothing new—i.e. jump scares, a preying banshee bride, and being possessed by tortured, evil souls ala The Exorcist. Along the way, fleeting apparitions inspired by hit horror flicks such as The Ring, Mama, A Tale Of Two Sisters, and The Conjuring also make an appearance—unfortunately they fail to somehow come together and form a mega-monster to send the audience reeling in terror.
If anything, the film isn't exactly shy about letting us know of its inspirations, as these promo photos for Dementia and the Korean film, A Tale Of Two Sisters, show:
Together with the film's tendency to resort to plucked-from-thin-air explanations for its mysteries, Dementia oftentimes feels contrived and unrealized and worst of all, lacking in the fright department. At best, the film is creepy—akin to the feeling of being displaced from the city, and having to spend a weekend at your lolo's creaky, cobweb-ridden ancestral house in the province.