Movie Review - Patrick

Movie Review - Patrick

Today I had the pleasure of attending the premiere of Mark Hartley's remake of director Richard Franklin's 1978 Cult Classic 'Patrick'. In addition I hosted the audience Q&A with lead actress Sharni Vinson (You're Next) and producer Anthony Ginnane. I was blown-away by the movie which mixes so many different genres, I have a hard time categorizing it. It expertly blends elements of sci-fi and horror with fantasy and dark comedy, and manages to provide a fresh and modern take on the film, while remaining reverent to the original. A special thanks to Arena Cinemas, Sharni and Anthony for the opportunity to see this film on the big screen and with an audience, the way that movies are best experienced. The film is now available on iTunes and VOD as well as in selected theaters. 

When a young mental health specialist named Kathy starts work at an old psychiatric hospital, she is introduced to the comatose patient in room fifteen, Patrick. But she begins to suspect that he is much more aware than the doctor or matron are admitting, and that maybe she is the only one who can reach him. But when Patrick, who attempted suicide after murdering his mother and her lover, becomes enamored with her, he begins using his mind to wreak havoc on her life. 

There are so many things that worked about this film, but the strongest link in the chain was the enormously talented cast, including the legendary Charles Dance (Game of Thrones), Academy Award nominee Rachel Griffiths (Six Feet Under, Hillary and Jackie) and my new favorite leading lady of horror, Sharni Vinson (You're Next). Griffiths shines in her brilliantly subtle and darkly comedic take on Matron Cassidy, the seemingly emotionless head nurse at the hospital. Charles Dance's domineering Doctor Roget casts a dark pall over the entirety of the building. And Sharni Vinson is as bad-ass as ever, but here she shows a little more of an emotional side than her previous two horror films, Bait and You're Next. Her connection with Patrick (Jackson Gallagher) is palpable from their first encounter and she is able to convincingly change gears in the third act from kind-hearted sympathizer to her signature 'take-no-prisoners' Linda Hamilton level bad ass. Vinson excels at playing characters of this ilk, and this film is no exception. 

Director Mark Hartley, an award winning documentary film maker from Australia, makes his feature length horror debut with Patrick, and it is quite impressive. The film looks absolutely stunning, and seems to find the perfect balance between the use of digital and practical effects, with only a few exceptions. I usually prefer practical effects and makeup over CGI, but for a film with a fantastical elements like this, it added to the visual experience immensely. There were one or two scenes where the digital effects were a bit too much for my taste, but I didn't feel like they seemed out of place in the context of the film as a whole. For me, the most visceral scares came from the scenes using 'old-school' makeup, and there was plenty of them to enjoy. Hartley has a strong eye for the composition of a shot and it adds character to the visual storytelling that is indicative of a natural talent, who has an understanding of his strengths as an artist.

Hartley's take gives Richard Franklin's classic film of the same name a fresh coat of paint that adapts the story for a younger generation without pulling any of the punches packed by the cult favorite. It didn't hurt that Anthony Ginnane, producer of the original film, returned for this re-imagining of the story. Remakes can be a daunting enterprise given the ire they tend to draw from purists, and malaise of those unfamiliar with the source material. I was happy to see this film given a theatrical release (albeit a limited one) because this film drew much of it's strength from strong sound design and editing which made for a dynamic cinematic experience. 

Patrick will please fans of a good old-fashioned, fun horror movie, one that expects it's audience is still able to suspend their disbelief for ninety minutes and enjoy a few laughs while jumping out of their seats. I highly recommend Patrick to genre fans and non-genre fans alike, because there is something here for everyone: chills, thrills, telekinesis, romance, fantasy, gore, and Sharni Vinson. What more could a person ask for? If you can find it playing in a theater close to you, I strongly urge you to see it while you have the chance. 

I would like to extend another thank you to Arena Cinema for allowing me to host the Q&A, and for supporting indie-horror - If not for theaters like Arena we might not get the chance to see these films the way they were intended to be seen. And to Sharni Vinson, who couldn't possibly have been sweeter or lovelier, for taking the time to answer the audiences and my questions. She represents a refreshing take on the leading lady in horror, one who isn't twisting her ankle trying to run from the bad guy, but instead carrying an axe and aiming right for his neck. And please help support indie-horror and rent Patrick on VOD or iTunes.

Grade B.

-Leo Francis