Mark Hartley made his name doing documentaries that explored the history of cult cinema breaking through with his feature Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story Of Ozploitation (2006) (screening at QUAD next weekend: here), Machete Maidens Unleashed! (2010) and the soon to be released Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films (2014). Here he returns to his love of Ozploitation with a remake of one of the masterpieces of that golden age of cult Australian cinema.
Patrick (1978), directed by Richard Franklin (Psycho II, Roadgames) was the tale of a coma patient and his obsession with new nurse Kathy (Susan Penhaligon). Mad scientists and telekinesis followed and things didn’t end well! View the trailer here
The film was successful though, even inspiring an Italian ripoff/unofficial sequel Patrick Still Lives(1980). View the trailer here
I can see why Hartley chose Patrick to remake. The same restrictions apply now as in 1978 and Patrick’s central premise is achievable on a reduced budget. One main location and a static leading man!
It is well acted. Sharni Vinson is proving to be a real find of recent years after her great performance in You’re Next (2011) and again here she is a great lead, bringing a bit of steel and depth to the traditional horror role. Charles Dance is good as Doctor Roget, the mad doctor experimenting on the comatose Patrick with shock therapy while Rachel Griffith is excellent in the role of Matron Cassidy. Peta Sergeant (the best thing about Iron Sky) is great as the traditional “sassy” friend that most horrors seem to need.
The two male romantic interests are pretty poor though particularly Martin Crewes as Brian Wright. To be fair he’s not given much to go with but he doesn’t quite nail the effortless charm that is supposed to come from the character. Damon Gameau as the spurned lover Ed, has a bit more to go on but his part is underwritten.
Visually it looks nice, with that sheen that a lot of independent horror tends to have these days. It is certainly going for that Gothic look and does achieve it. However it brought me out of the movie. It is beautifully done but it feels like a set. The hospital doesn’t feel like a real hospital, it has that over designed look. One of the incidental characters is obsessed with clocks and being on time. So of course his room is full of clocks of all different varieties. This extends to the costumes too. I don’t have much idea how nurses dress in Australia but here they look like they should be in a 1950s nurse drama. It has an almost fetishistic feel, of characters playing dress up.
It has an old fashioned feel to it which is not necessarily a bad thing. The storyline, the settings and the characters don’t feel too different to the characters in the original. Okay Patrick uses the internet and mobile phones now but that is about the only modern additions to the story. There are some nice deaths in the film usually the ones that don’t rely on special visual effects, and the hands-on-the-sandwich-maker is a pretty gruesome sequence too.
All in all, more good than bad and it does try to, at least visually, distance itself from original.
Rating – 3 out of 5 syringes.