Graham Skipper on ‘Dementia Part II’

Photo courtesy of Dark Star Pictures and Bloody Disgusting.

Graham Skipper plays the sleaze bag character that gets what’s coming to him in Dementia Part II. 

Dementia Part II was conceived by the writer/director team Matt Mercer and Mike Testin (The Salesman, Dementia) and stars Matt Mercer (Contracted, Bliss, Beyond the Gates), Graham Skipper (Almost Human, Sequence Break, VFW), Najarra Townsend (Contracted, The Stylist), and Suzanne Voss (The Lords of Salem, Dementia).

Synopsis: Wendell receives a threatening phone call from his parole officer Reggie… if he doesn’t find a job immediately, he will face serious legal repercussions. Wendell wrangles some home maintenance work for a seemingly benign older woman, Suzanne, who persists in giving him increasingly absurd tasks to complete around the house. As the workday progresses, Wendell is thrown into an ever-escalating nightmare, and comes face to face with an unexpected evil.  Suzanne hides a dark secret.  And it’s up to Wendell and Suzanne’s daughter, Sheila (Najarra Townsend) to put an end to her madness.

Check out our Q & A with Graham!

Photo courtesy of Dark Star Pictures and Bloody Disgusting.
What initially drew you to this project?

Graham: I mean, really it was my buddy, Matt Mercer, calling me up one day and saying ‘hey we’ve got to film a movie in like four days, do you want to come be a real sleazy asshole and get covered in blood?’ And I said, ‘Sure, sounds great.’ That was really it. You know, Matt’s a good friend of mine and so is Mike and I. I always really admired Najarra (Townsend)’s work as well, though I hadn’t gotten to work with her yet. And so the idea of getting to do to a film and shoot as quickly as we shot it, was just super appealing and was a really fun time.

Four days, holy crow! Why the short deadline?

Graham: So, basically the movie was sort of conceived as a challenge to the filmmakers, to Matt and Mike, that they could make a movie from script to screen, including posts and everything, in 30 days. in time to premiere at the Cinepocalypse Film Festival in Chicago. They took on the challenge, and so the script I think was, I don’t know, it was probably written in a week, and then I think just they had four or five days to shoot the whole movie. And, you know, because then after that, you have to edit it and have to score it and have to do color correction and sound and all that stuff. So it was a very very fast process. Although we were all stressed, at the same time, we were all having fun. It was a really fun atmosphere on set.

You would have never guessed that film was put together in like a week, that’s crazy!

Graham: I know it man I can’t believe it either. When I finally saw the movie, I said to Matt ‘this has no business being as good as it is.’ This is a real movie and I don’t know what I was expecting. Matt and Mike are supremely talented, but the just the quality of the filmmaking, I think is, you know, certainly on par with every other horror film that’s coming out. And the fact that they were able to put it together that quickly, it’s just insane to me. 

Now, as a seasoned actor, do you prefer being a little bit more spontaneous like this or do you enjoy having multiple takes and like a few days to do things?

Graham: That’s a good question…  acting is best when you’re either 100% spontaneous and doing it very fast and right away, or if you have a whole lot of time to prepare and really plan things out. I tend to agree with that. I think that, you know, if I have time to work with everyone, rehearse and get things, you know, sort of exactly where they need to be that I think that’s wonderful. Conversely, you know, if you only have one day and you have to do everything, that’s also super fun and super useful because you just sort of are forced to make the boldest choice possible and live with it. And I think that makes for really interesting filmmaking. So yeah, I think it’s a little bit of both,. If I had to choose one, I guess I choose to be more prepared, you know, you always want to be prepared. But I think as an actor, you know, your job is to prepare as much as possible on your own, show up to set on time and ready to work, knowing everything that you could possibly know. 

So, you said that this film is on par with a lot of horror films that are being done today, but what do you think sets it apart from them? Other than the fact that it was shot in four days. 

Graham: You know, aside from the aesthetic stuff, like it’s in black and white. I think that this movie, partially as a result of it having to be put together so quickly, isn’t afraid to just be bonkers and fun. You know, this isn’t trying to, I don’t know, make some big statement or whatever. It’s a blast of a midnight movie. And I think that people will really recognize that. It’s not often that you, at least in my opinion, really see a movie that is just totally unafraid to be gross., to be vulgar and to be silly and to totally dance around like this one does. And I think that’s what really sets it apart, you know, it’s its own thing. I sort of call it like a splat stick, you know? It’s a silly, fun grossed out splattery midnight movie, and I think that we need more of those in the world.

And to my understanding there’s also a Dementia part one, back in 2015 that you were also a part of with Mike, is there any relation between the two films?

Graham: Well, I mean, so there’s no narrative relation, I think perhaps, thematically, there’s the element of dementia being, you know, at the heart of both of the movies. In Dementia Part One, you know, I play a totally different character. And it’s a much more somber, you know, melancholy horror film that deals with a man battling dementia. Mike did a great job with that. I’m not totally sure about this, but I think that the reason that they chose to do a part two, and chose to like sort of link up with this is simply because the company, at the heart of all this, had made Dementia Part One and they thought it would be really funny to make a totally unrelated sequel. And, you know, in a movie like this, where you have to make the whole thing happen in 30 days, you just sort of make a choice and go with it. I actually have told people, when they say ‘oh, do I need to watch Dementia Part One to understand Part Two,’ and I’ve said, ‘Oh yes! They’re very intricately linked, you should definitely watch the first one first.’ That’s all bullshit. You don’t need to. But you should check it out because it’s a good movie on its own.

So, in this film, you play Wendell’s sleazy parole officer, is that correct?

Graham: Yep, I am Reggie Belford, Wendell’s parole officer. He’s a real sleaze bag. Reggie is a piece of work, not a savory character, and without giving too much away, let’s just say he’s somebody that you very much look forward to getting killed in a very gruesome fashion.

It kind of seems like there was a little bit of a backstory created as to why he’s such a sleazebag especially in relation to Wendell, did you create some sort of a backstory with Mike?

Graham: We talked a little bit about it, you know, and we talked about how I’m generally always annoyed at him because he’s not doing things the way that I want him to do them. But also that I remember that conversation about ‘Oh you made me drive all the way across town,’ really, I had to drive like 10 minutes. I’m just sort of a lazy motherf***** that doesn’t want to deal with anything. And so that, to me, was a much bigger deal than it really was, you know, which again feeds into who my character is and, yeah, we’ve talked a little bit about it.

And you and you also worked with Suzanne quite a bit, as you hinted at this earlier, what was it like working with her?

Graham: Suzanne’s brilliant. It was funny, when I first met her, she was already wearing her contacts and was already kind of gooped up and things like that, which is always a funny way to meet someone, because it’s sort of your first impression. She’s so talented, and, you know, we found some really fun bits to do when we, you know, when we were shooting that scene. She’s a total pro. We had a really great time hanging out in Fright Fest in London. And so I got to know her even better because again we had to shoot everything super fast, and then the minute I was done, I had to leave because they were shooting more stuff. It was fast and furious and so we didn’t get a ton of time to chitchat, but working with her was great. I think she’s just phenomenal in this movie, and I very much look forward to people seeing what she can do because I just think she’s wonderful.

Is there anything else that you’d like to add about Dementia Part II?

Graham: Get as many fully vaccinated friends as you can get together and get some beers and watch this at midnight. I think that’s the best way to see it.

Photo courtesy of Dark Star Pictures and Bloody Disgusting.
Dementia Part II hits theaters on May 21 and on VOD, Digital HD and DVD on June 1.