Patrick (AKA Patrick: Evil Awakens)
Directed by Mark Hartley
Starring Sharni Vinson, Charles Dance, Rachel Griffiths
Review by Jordan
I don’t believe I’ve ever encountered a movie with such obvious distinction between its successes and failures as Patrick, the 2013 remake of the 1978 Ozploitation classic of the same name. Directed by Not Quite Hollywood’s Mark Hartley, this is a film that could have been quite brilliant but seemingly cheapens itself at every available opportunity, not enough to render it completely unnecessary, but certainly enough to ensure it is unmistakably lesser to the chillingly rendered original and strikingly disappointing.
The story of a nurse (Sharni Vinson) who is appointed to a secluded, haunting clinic by the roaring coast under the supervision of the diabolical Dr Roget (Charles Dance) to assist him with his neurological experiments, where she grows particularly sympathetic towards a strangely likely comatose patient, Patrick (Jackson Gallagher), Hartley’s update makes conscious and continuous efforts to look and sound exceptional but fails in the most important aspect of a film of this type: scares.
It’s as simple as this: Patrick does not feature a single scene to even threaten the hairs on the back of the neck to twitch, let alone stand up. Proceedings begin in an ominous fashion when the opening scene in which a young nurse is stalked in a pitch-black mortuary is hijacked by blatant product-placement that shamefully controls the characters motivations but could maybe be forgiven, were it not for the rest that followed… I’ll avoid mentioning the particular tech giant that paid their way here, suffice to say the many close-ups of, and plot points using smart phones are embarrassing, Australia, even more-so than Hartley’s over-direction and the horrible use of CGI on a malevolent Patrick. It appears that Hartley was under the impression that his audience may lose interest if the camera hinted at remaining fixed for even a moment, or if the action wasn’t constantly moving forward through exposition, or flashbacks that would’ve been better suited placed at the movie’s beginning.
As mentioned at the top however, there are some high points here, the most obvious being the captivating performance of an actress who is close to becoming my new favourite. Vinson improves on her breakthrough performance in You’re Next (2011) and ensures that her character of naive yet determined Kathy JacQuard is constantly worth watching despite the quality of the acting surrounding her (Australian veteran Rachel Griffiths is particularly stale and uninteresting here). The other memorable aspect is Pino Donaggio’s music, that like any good horror score frequently overshadows the action in a joyous way. Donaggio’s work has almost-unbelievably gone underrated over the years, with his pieces for Don’t Look Now (1973), Carrie (1976), Blow Out (1981) and Trauma (1993) among some of the finest of the horror/thriller genres, and he does nothing to harm his glowing reputation here.
So, all things considered, is this remake of one the most successful thrillers this country has produced worth seeing for its pros? or deserving of neglect for its cons? At the risk of sounding slightly hypocritical, I’m still leaning towards the former. It may not be frightening, well directed or sharply penned, but the performance of Vinson, as well as the tremendous music, well crafted costumes and environments and seeing Rachel Griffiths get dispatched horrifically do well to raise it from sub-par to mid-range.