Patrick is the first feature film from Australian director Mark Hartley, best known for his award winning documentaries and music videos. His 2008 documentary Not Quite Hollywood:The Wild,Untold Story Of Ozploitation which was critically acclaimed and won numerous awards revisited countless genre classics and forgotten gems, one of those being the original 1978 version of Patrick which he would remake himself five years later. (Ozploitation is the coined term for exploitation, horror and action films made in Australia in the 70s & 80s) Patrick (2013) stars Charles Dance (Game Of Thrones, Last Action Hero, The Golden Child), Sharni Vinson ( You're Next, Bait 3D) and Peta Sergeant (Iron Sky, Crawlspace).
Nurse Kathy Jacquard begins her new job at an isolated psychiatric hospital where they specialize in treating comatose patients. After meeting Doctor Roget (Charles Dance) and his daughter Matron Cassidy (Rachel Griffiths) her new colleague nurse Paula Williams (Peta Sergeant) shows her around her new work place. At first glance judging by the old car parked outside the hospital and the old fashioned uniforms the nurses wear I thought the film was set somewhere between the 50s and 70s, until Kathy took out her iPhone and went on Facebook of course. Later on Kathy and her new colleague Paula go for an after work drink and bump into the sleazy Doctor Brian. Paula introduces him to Paula and when they bump into each other again a few days later in a museum their flirting is cut short when Brian spits in Paula's face out of the blue! Its now obvious that Patrick is controlling things from his bed even though he is in a deep coma, controlling people's actions, electricity, browse the internet and even using phones to call or text people. At first he is communicating with Paula by spitting but everyone she tells just writes it off as an involuntary reflex. Eventually Patrick upgrades and starts using the keyboard of the computer next to him to speak to Paula. Its clear that he is crazy about Paula and just crazy in general, and somehow stalking her every move and becoming more and more jealous of every man she speaks to. Eventually it is revealed that Dr. Roget is performing electric shock treatment experiments on Patrick and the more he does it the more powerful Patrick becomes, so when Paula protests against these experiments Patrick gets pissed off with her. Its finally revealed how Patrick ended up in a coma and why he's bat shit crazy and everything blows up into a big over-the-top supernatural finale.
As I haven't seen the original Patrick I can't really compare the remake to it but from what I hear the original is a lot better. The remake has a great setting, that old isolated hospital just oozes eeriness. The bitterness of Charles Dance's Dr. Roget mirrors his Game Of Thrones character Tywin Lannister and just about every other evil bastard he played in the past. Sharni Vinson is great as the damsel in distress, almost the opposite of her tough as nails character in You're Next. She seems to be the newest scream queen on the block and what I consider to be the Australian Danielle Harris. I hope to see her in more stand-out rolls in the horror genre in the future. Great location, performances and cinematography aside I have to say I found Patrick to be a very uneven movie. It goes from being creepy as hell one minute to being laugh-out-loud hilarious the next, sometimes intentionally and sometimes not. I realize that when watching a movie about a guy in a coma with telekinetic super-powers you're expected to brush reality and common sense to the side but even the most open minded person will probably watch this and think "what the fuck?". One of the most hilarious scenes in the movie and in any movie I've seen in a while is when Patrick makes every coma victim sit up simultaneously chanting "Patrick Wants His Hand-job!" as nurse Paula runs through the hospital ward. If I watched this in the cinema the person in front of me would undoubtedly be covered in coke and popcorn as I pissed myself laughing to this scene. All in all Patrick was for the most part enjoyable and definitely worth a look if you don't take horror films too seriously. Not a bad first effort from director Mark Hartley and I'm intrigued to see what he does next.