Reviewbr> "Another of the Belles among the brain dead" - Doctor Brian Wright
Kathy Jacquard, apparently an expert on looking after patients in comas, takes a job at the remote and spooky Roget Clinic where the titular Doctor is experimenting on bringing back people who are effectively brain dead. She gets to work with Matron Cassidy, who redefines having a carrot up your arse, the feisty Nurse Williams, and of course Doctor Roget. Her patients are pretty much vegetables except for one old timer that leaps into action at a certain time of the day to turn on the light at the local lighthouse, and Patrick, a patient who may not be as brain dead as everyone supposes.
Taking an interest in Patrick, Kathy finds she can communicate with him via Patrick spitting out binary answers. Doc Roget is trying everything in his power to re-animated Patrick, including electric shock treatment, drugs, and the ever popular pain delivery, but Patrick remains unresponsive to Roget. Kathy starts finding strange things happening around her, and accidents happening to her friends, could it be Patrick exerting some sort of telekinetic power? When Patrick starts to communicate with Kathy via a computer, placed strategically in his room, she discovers that the patient is obsessive and focused on her! Naturally deaths occur as Roget goes over the top in his experiments and Patrick goes paranormal stalker, can Kathy switch off the juice before it gets even more out of hand?
They should have titled this movie Patrick brought to you by Apple as the product placements are well over the top. Seems anyone who works for the Roget clinic or remotely knows Kathy, solely uses Apple products, and of course madness ensues. Anyways the movie is a remake of the classic 1978 Aussie thriller of the same name and it bombed at the Australian cinema last year. So was it a case of Aussies not turning up to our own brand of horror, the lack of access to the cinemas showing the movie, or simply that Patrick was yet another remake that sucked in comparison to the original? Let's grab a syringe and find a vein.
Director Mark Hartley, who is better known for dark genre documentaries, gets things out of the station in pretty convincing style. A nurse, all the nurses are female in this movie surprisingly, is out and about late at night. She is breathing hard so clearly is frightened by either someone or something she is doing. She enters a recognisable elevator, same one from the original movie? - and goes down to the basement of a large decrepit looking building. She enters what I took to be a morgue and starts taking pictures of mutilated bodies on her requisite iPhone. In an example of less is more Hartley only highlights the body parts via the flashes of the phone camera, which knocked my socks off. In a move that would have had Hitchcock standing up and applauding the Nurse captures an image of someone else in the room just before she is assaulted. I'll leave it for you to delve into the rest of the scene as there's the first of a number of shocks coming at you in this early prologue piece. Got to say Hartley also reminded me of Argento at his prime with this opening gambit that certainly drew my attention.
As the movie unfolds there's a real Hammer meets Hitchcock circa Psycho feeling going down that sort of puts us in a retro mood. The drive up to the Roget Clinic could have been pulled from any number of Hammer thrillers or could have been the road up to Norman's crib. Later in the movie one character ends up going over the cliff side in a scene that put's the cock in Hitchcock, if that makes any sort of sense. Okay, the Clinic itself just screams out psycho, insanity, or haunted like Paranormal Activity on steroids. You simply know nothing good can come from this edifice, don't Kathy and her mates watch horror flicks? I wasn't against this blast from the past approach, and Hartley is wearing this particular fright tactic on his sleeve, but modern audience may be made slightly non-plus by proceedings.
Rachel Griffiths (Matron Cassidy) really nails her role and once again puts us in a by-gone era when Matrons could be cold hearted bitches without being reported to HR. Stunning performance that served notice that Matron wasn't operating with a full surgical kit, she loves her syringes as well, got to love that in a Matron. So the whole look and feel has this gothic thing going down, helped by the locations and also Ms Griffiths and Charles Dance (Doctor Roget).
I was however slightly perturbed by script writer Justin King's handling of the background story, which is needed to cement Patrick in the here and now. We learn that Doctor Roget has pretty much used up the good will he has with the decision makers and is given a final two months to prove his theories. This is cool and explains the almost criminal experimenting he conducts on Patrick, and one assumes other patients at the Clinic. All good and exactly what is needed, as played by Charles Dance Doc Roget comes across as superior, a scientist, and as the movie evolves having a few Roos bouncing around in the top paddock. However where writer King drops the ball is in his handling of the primary character of Kathy Jacquard. It's never adequately explained why Kathy took a job that involves long hours on minimum wage, we get a hint later in the movie but it doesn't ring true and possibly I was making more of the tidbit thrown into the cage having seen the original movie. King simply seems to think the audience will accept what is going down without providing motivation; he is not respecting the possible audience for the movie in the slightest.
Just a word on Sharni Vinson (Kathy Jacquard) before continuing with the review, besides having the most Bogan first name imaginable Ms Vinson nails her role. I was right behind Nurse Kathy as she slowly discovered what was going down at the Clinic and came under the diseased attention of the titular character. Is it just me or has Sharni Vinson replaced Melissa George as the go to Aussie actress for dark genre movies? She seems to be popping up all over the shop, is Mel on prolonged Holidays or something?
This of course segways to the titular character himself, Patrick as played solidly by Jackson Gallagher, if you count being a comatose patient as solid acting of course. Gallagher manages to recapture the requirements laid down by the original movie. Patrick stares, unnervingly, in one direction, shows no emotion, and spits. Veterans of the original movie of course know where this is heading and I'm not about to spoil it for noobs, but there is something strikingly eerie about Patrick, a sort of menace that hangs undefined over the movie. Where the remake gets it right is in Patrick's relationship with Doctor Roget, Patrick needs Roget's treatment to fully realise his powers, Roget, like his predecessor Doctor Frankenstein, fails to recognise the danger he is creating. Kathy gradually becomes aware that Patrick is far from a vegetable and harbours a power that is deadly, mainly due to Patrick being completely psychotic.
Way over the word limit here, so let's rock out the final few ideas. Okay there's plenty of violence to keep gorehounds happy with life, people around Patrick and Kathy meet some sticky ends, and the ones who survive are going to bare the scares. T&A is on the ozploitation side of the bedpan, plenty of boobs to be going on with including a quick cameo from Sharni Vinson's girls and Simone Buchanan unleashing the rack to my instant applause. The gals get a number of dudes topless, pity they are comatose but hey dig on in there, which reminds me, one of the patients is a chick and what do you know ... more boobs!
There's a slight problem with the logic of the movie that I couldn't get across. Kathy quite rightly identifies that Patrick's powers are of the electrical kind, the drain on the Clinic's power supply by the light over in the lighthouse being turned on is a crucial plot point for example, however Patrick is able to project a lot of non-electronic phenomena as the script requires. I'm saying plot hole that should have been taken care of.
Okay I'm not totally against remakes, unless Platinum Dunes are involved, and for sure Patrick needed to be upgraded for the modern age, but I'm not positive that Mark Hartley does his source material justice. The retro feel, and this extends to the overdramatic score heavily influenced as it is by violin and piano, just doesn't seem to fit the subject matter and feels like Hartley is paying tribute to Hitchcock rather than focusing on the job at hand. If you haven't seen the original movie then I would suggest rocking out with the remake, otherwise it's not going to add to your thoughts on the original. Why did Patrick fail at the box office, two causes, firstly the release schedule put the movie in limited cinemas in a few of the major cities, cinemas fans were unable to get too, and secondly let's face facts here, the movie isn't that good. Worth a look on DVD rent is my call.