Thursday, 31 July 2014

Patrick: Evil Awakens (2013)

Mark Hartley's operatic, deliciously over the top remake of Richard Franklin's 1978 Australian horror film about a bed-bound telepathic teenager, who affects the lives of those in the hospital in which he is a patient, premiered around the UK last year as part of the FrightFest all-nighter (we saw it in Bristol). It's finally getting a UK DVD release on 11th August. The more observant amongst you (actually that's probably all of you - I don't think sleepy people visit this site) will have noticed that the picture opposite is for the US Blu-ray. That's partly because the UK DVD cover still seems to be in mock-up form, but also because the version we have here at House of Mortal Cinema is the US Blu-ray. Sadly it's locked to Region A and there doesn't seem to be a UK Blu forthcoming, so if you haven't got yourself a multi-region player yet (and you're probably in the minority if you come here often) then here's another excuse to do so.
      PATRICK the remake follows the plot of PATRICK the original pretty closely, and even reproduces some of the murders. It's a pretty good updating, and I'd go so far as to say that the first hour or so is superb if you fancy a gloriously blood-and-thunder treatment of this kind of story. The setting is a gloomy old hospital in the middle of nowhere. Almost everyone boasts Australian accents and cars with UK registration plates. Mad doctor Charles Dance (who doesn't speak Australian) has filled the hospital with patients in a persistent vegetative state. He doesn't seem to have that high a grant to keep the place going as it's so dark the only money he spends on electricity must go on that ECT machine he uses frequently on one very special patient. 
      Exactly why he's shooting poor old Patrick full of drugs and regularly zapping his brain is, in the best horror movie tradition, never really explained. Nurse Sharni Vinson (from Adam Wingard's YOU'RE NEXT) gets a job at the hospital and forms a special bond with needy, psychotic, mother-figure obsessed Patrick, not that she realises this when she first puts her hand down his underpants. Soon she finds all the men around her are cutting themselves, burning themselves, and driving themselves off cliffs as Patrick embarks on the kind of wooing programme that would leave most stalkers slack-jawed in admiration. 
      PATRICK all goes off the rails a bit towards the end but it's actually a very good low-budget remake of a film that was always fun but was never the classic some claim it to be. Director Mark Hartley has a fine eye indeed for some splendid over the top imagery (Vinson's screaming mouth reflected in a shard of broken mirror, and some of the most dramatic camera angles I think I have ever seen just to show someone walking into a house) and the performances are, on the whole, spot on for this kind of thing. I can admit to a preference for Susan Penhaligon as the object of Patrick's attentions but Charles Dance is just superb as the loony doctor. Also of note is the score which is easily Pino Donaggio's best work in years and pleasingly Herrmanesque. The CD is available. Extras on the Blu-ray (which looks lovely) consist of a number of cast and crew interviews. It's not known if the UK DVD will have any extras.

PATRICK: EVIL AWAKENS is being released in the UK by House DVD on 11th August 2014. The Region A Blu-ray is already out.


  1. |I think they were going for the "where the hell is this place set?" feel of producer Tony Ginnane's other 70s/80s horrors (he produced Patrick, but that was clearly set in Melbourne, even though the 4 main cast were either British-born or had lived in Britain for many years and all had Brit-ish accents). His adaptation of James Herbert's The Survivor is set in a weird kind of generic Commonwealth with British leads, American guest star and toned-down accents. His Harlequin with Robert Powell, David Hemmings and Broderick Crawford is almost but not quite set in the US. And his 1981 film Dead Kids/STrange Behaviour is Illinois set, American director in Michael Laughlin, American writer in Bill Condon, American cast with the likes of Louise Fletcher and Michael Murphy, the sole exemptions being Aussie Arthur Dignam, Brit Fiona Lewis and Maori Beryl Te Wiata, as the film was made in New Zealand, due to Australian Equity laws forbidding import of more than 3 non-Australian actors.

  2. I haven't seen THE SURVIVOR, but PATRICK always felt very Australian, and DEAD KIDS very American (but weird). I forgot to mention that the PATRICK remake credits Brian May's music from both PATRICK and THE SURVIVOR. I'm guessing it's the music Charles Dance is listening to on his headphones.

  3. Yes it is. Dead Kids, if you didn't know you'd think it was American or perhaps Canadian.
    Yes, Patrick was a very Melbourne film, and that was its charm, like it had a sense of belonging, a place. WHile this kind of alienated me, because it didn't know where it was supposed to be.

  4. I felt the alienation was a bonus, though. Like I said, I think it helps if you think of it as an opera, or at the very least something done in the Italian style and set in that art house horror never never land.