Najarra Townsend shines as Sheila, a waitress determined to change her life around, by any means necessary in Dementia Part II.
Dementia Part II was produced from conception to its world premiere screening at Cinepocalype Film Festival by the writer/director team Matt Mercer and Mike Testin (The Salesman, Dementia) in just 5 weeks. The film 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 Najarra!
So first of all what drew you to be a part of Dementia Part II?
Najarra: Matt Mercer and Mike Testin, they’re life long friends of mine. And when Matt called me and told me about this feature film challenge they accepted, I was like, ‘Yes, I am in! No matter what it is.’ I’m stoked to do anything with those two men. I think they’re extremely talented.
The challenge was a legit challenge, too. I spoke to Graham, the other day and he said just the filming part was four days long.
Najarra: Yeah, I shot for three days with them. We got the scripts the night before and it was all very last minute. Matt and Mike were wearing so many hats. I think we had a boom operator but besides that, they were doing everything by themselves and it was just amazing to witness.
What was it like having such a short amount of time to film an entire movie?
Najarra: It was intense. It was crazy. It was a crazy, crazy experience. We had such a fast pace going that it was very organic in a way, like, there wasn’t much time to think about stuff. We just had to do it. And if it felt like it was good, we moved on and everything just moved so fast, but because of that, we were all kind of, like, on this weird high. We had way too much fun shooting it, we were kind of getting delirious at the end of the day, because it was just a lot of information in such a short amount of time. And Matt, oh I just felt for Matt because he was playing the lead and he was trying to direct and he was trying to do everything else and then help with special effects. He had a lot on his plate. But it was so much fun.
What were your thoughts on the finished product?
Najarra: I was so impressed. I mean, it’s weird. As an actor you never know what a film is gonna look like in the end, like how it’s gonna turn out, obviously, with everything they do in post editing and music and you can think you’re making one movie and then it’s something else in the end. And with this one, like, obviously, it was so it was such a fast turnaround and I have all the faith in Mike and Matt so I knew that it would be a quality product, but I just didn’t know what that was going to look like really. And I can’t remember if they had said it would be in black and white or not, but I was surprised when I saw it in black and white. I was just floored when I first saw it. I couldn’t believe how well it turned out and it was disgusting and fun and I was laughing at it. I thought they did a great job. I was really impressed.
Other than the fact that this took 30 days, start to finish, what do you think sets this film apart from other horror movies?
Najarra: I mean, personally, it’s a refreshing film because I feel like you can see how much older horror films have influenced Matt and Mike. And it’s just a kind of a goofy horror movie which is kind of weird like it’s funny, and disgusting, and it feels original to me. I think that if people like strange midnight horror movies they’re gonna love this one.
Because this was such a fast paced project, how did you prepare to play Sheila?
Najarra: I immediately was like ‘okay, who is she and what does she want, where did she come from?’ I feel like as long as I knew what her goal was in life, I had some purpose to the character. And I asked Matt a bunch of questions, but it was more just like ‘okay, what does she want and why does she want it,’ and that was it. It’s weird too because usually I put so much time into creating a backstory for a character and really trying to make sure that the characters are really fleshed out and full of life and this one was such a fast turnaround so it was a different experience. But it was good, it was fun, and it taught me. So that’s good.
What did it teach you?
Najarra: It taught me that I can trust my instinct. Although I feel like it’s extremely important to do an epic amount of work on a character, at the end of the day if you make just a couple strong choices, you’re gonna be okay.
Do you think that Sheila would have found Suzanne’s money without Wendell? It was hidden in a very weird spot.
Najarra: I think Sheila is a very determined young lady. Would she have been successful finding it, I’m not entirely sure but she would have tried everything in her power to find it. I don’t think she would have left that house without it.
If you came into money like that, what would you do with it?
Najarra: Oh my goodness. I haven’t really ever thought about that which was really strange, I guess. I don’t know. I would probably give a lot of it to my family and friends and then try to invest a portion of it. I’ve never been necessarily the smartest with money when it comes to investments or savings and stuff. So I feel like if I had come into a chunk of money, I would definitely try to be smarter with it and try to make it into something more, and then I would also definitely give it away to my family and friends.
Is there anything else that you’d like to add about this film?
Najarra: I hope people watch it and I hope that they really enjoy it and have a good time. And when you sit down to watch it, don’t take it too seriously, have a drink, relax and get ready to laugh and see some strangeness on the screen.