PATRICK. Starring Rachel Griffiths, Charles Dance, Damon Gameau, Jackson Gallagher, Peta Sargeant, Eliza Taylor, Martin Crewes, Rod Mullinar. Simone Buchanan, Maria Mercedes. Directed by Mark Hartley. 96 minutes. Rated MA 15+ (Strong themes, violence and nudity).
This reviewer has not seen the original film of 1978, its first release. This review will not be a comparison with the original film. After the review, a look back to the 1978 review of Patrick.
One of the advantages of a re-make is that the director and writer can take advantage of developments in camera equipment, styles of photography, in editing and pace, in special effects. This is certainly the case for this film. The photography is mainly dark and gloomy, creating the atmosphere of the old convent which has become a centre for research on comatose people and the possibilities of bringing them back to consciousness. The environment is not much cheerier, coast road, clouds, rain, fog. And within the convent, still with its many statues of the Sacred Heart, Mary, St Joseph, crucifixes, it is always very dark and eerie.
This is important because the head of the Institute, Dr Roget (Charles Dance) is urbane in a British kind of way, accent and all, and seems dedicated to his work. but, he is, of course, a mad scientist. His assistant in the Institute is his daughter Julia (Rachel Griffiths), who for most of the film is being the stereotypical hard matron, starchilly repressed. But, she has some more active moments at the end of the film.
However, the audience sees everything through the eyes of an eager young nurse, Kathy, played by Sharni Vinson, who becomes involved with the central patient, Patrick (Jackson Gallagher), a young man lying immobile, eyes open, but seemingly without consciousness. It soon appears that he does have consciousness with telekinetic powers. They are not the just the traditional powers, but an ability to use his power links to a computer to communicate in words appearing on the screen – not something possible in 1978.
Cathy is advised to socialise by Nurse Williams, the other member of the staff, a cheery young woman who does not take work over-seriously. She and Kathy meet Brian, a psychiatrist, rather flirtatious and interested in a relationship with Kathy. This leads to some danger for Brian and, ultimately, his death. Also in the picture is Kathy’s former boyfriend, Ed (Damon Gameau), who also becomes the victim of telekinetic violence. And it all builds up to a hyper-melodramatic finale.
The director is Mark Hartley who made the very interesting documentary on Ozploitation movies, Not Quite Hollywood (narrated by Quentin Tarantino). The film opens with the conventions of dark mansion, mysterious laboratory, mad doctor, of the odd goings-on, then it moves more and more into some shock-horror moments - and really goes fairly bonkers towards the end.
Fr Peter Malone MSC is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.
Out October 17, 2013.