2013 / Director. Mark Hartley.
I saw Patrick this evening at the world premier in Melbourne. The cast & crew were in attendance as well as various other notables. The atmosphere was fantastic and everyone was excited about seeing Patrick. Director Mark Hartley and producer Antony Ginnane introduced the film and explained their intentions when "re-imaging" the story. Of course Patrick is based on the 1978 Australian thriller of the same name. It tells the story of a hospital ward for trauma victims, mostly the catatonic. One patient is Patrick who is kept isolated from the other patients. He is a special case patient and horrible experiments are performed on him. When a sympathetic nurse starts looking after him, all kinds of strange and supernatural things begin to happen. Objects move, people become possessed (for lack of better word) and deadly obsessions manifest themselves. The original was written by genre legend Everett DeRoche, it was directed by Richard Franklin and has been embraced as an influential film of its time. The remake is a curious oddity. Firstly it's important that I state for the record that I really enjoyed it... Hartley has taken the foundations of the original film and built a truly gothic psychological-thriller, unlike anything I've seen come out of Australia. The dark, brooding atmosphere recalls films like The Devil's Backbone and The Others and Hartley told the audience that The Orphanage also lent a lot of textual inspiration. Clearly Guillermo Del Toro's sensibilities have been influential. It's a beautiful looking film. Mark Hartley clearly had a vision and he has succeeded in capturing it. This is a very Hitchcockian piece, which is fitting considering that Richard Franklin directed the original and was a protege of Hitch's. That Hitchcock flavour is all over this film with it's underlying themes and revelations; and the magnificent score by Pino Donaggio is possibly the film's greatest asset... it does have some shortcomings, however, including some questionable FX, which I won't reveal the details of. The use of modern technology throughout the film also bothered me. With such a classic and gothic setting I would rather the film be a period piece because all of the cell phones and computers lessened the suspense considerably. Even the nurses outfits felt colonial. And then there's the hospital itself... it's located somewhere rural and isolated, staffed by only a few. What is this place? In a modern-day setting a huge suspension of disbelief is required because it's hard to believe a place like it could legally exist. But I digress... I should also mention that the audience itself in the cinema was quite detrimental to my reception of Patrick. For a world premier I was amazed at how many people left their seats and wandered in and out of the theatre. Serieously!? Are they here for the film or just for shits n' giggles? Seeing so many people come and go (including MIFF staff) was a real distraction for me and removed my emotional attachment from the movie entirely... anyhow, these squabbles aside I was impressed with Patrick 2013. It doesn't do the original a disservice by any means and it is vividly its own entity. The cast are all excellent and the pacing is great. Hopefully this is the first of many more high concept, quality Australian genre films. I will anxiously await what Mark Hartley brings next.