Director: Mark Hartley
Screenwriter: Justin King
Runtime: 96 mins.
Australian release date: 17 October 2013
Mark Hartley’s remake of the 1978 horror film, Patrick, is according to Hartley an attempt to, “…thrill and unsettle a new generation of film-goers … and keep devotees of the original happy also.” And he has succeeded in doing so, for this is a good old-fashioned creepy experience which managed to create a knee jerk reaction from the critic sitting behind me during the preview – he kicked the back of my seat each time he got a fright! The producer, Antony I. Ginnane, must be a very happy man as, 36 years after he produced the original, he is handling a film that will, judging by the reports of early overseas sales, once again do very well at the box office and carry on the ‘Ozploitation’ name. Hopefully it will follow down the same track as its predecessor, which was the first new wave Australian film to be released in Germany and to play theatrically in all Latin American territories.
Set in a remote seaside town, a young nurse Kathy (Sharni Vinson), turns up for a job at the Roget Clinic, a private hospital for the clinically comatosed. Naturally, it’s housed in a neo-Gothic mansion. Her employees are the sinister Dr. Sebastian Roget (Charles Dance) and his ice queen daughter, matron Cassidy (Rachel Griffiths). Kathy is shown the ropes by her bubbly colleague, nurse Williams (Peta Sergeant). The patients are mostly brain dead except for an older man who seems to have the run of the place, popping up and scaring the pants off everyone when he looms up from nowhere. Kathy is mesmerized by a particularly spunky young man Patrick (Jackson Gallagher), who is lying in a coma after an accident involving his parents. Kathy endeavours to communicate with him and that is when all hell breaks loose as Patrick begins to spit in response to her questions and telekinetically type on her computer screen. Spooky!
The script is robustly accompanied by Pino Donaggio’s truly magnificent score which really ramps up the suspense. The film draws parallels with the works of Hitchcock and Brian De Palma, who also collaborated with Donaggio. Garry Richard’s (who with Hartley emerged as the dominant producers of high-end music videos in Australia) cinematography and Robbie Perkin’s production design, also tick all the boxes. The detail carries on in the great costumes designed by Aphrodite Kondos (who has worked on over 30 films, received 5 AFI nominations and also designed the 1978 version of Patrick). She’s created a severe, rather stitched-up look for the three nurses, particularly matron Cassidy, which contributes to the tension. Dance and Griffiths, along with the rest of the cast, deliver a good old-fashioned horror story that will very likely become a cult movie, as did its predecessor. Check this out, you won’t be disappointed but be wary of who sits behind you!