Welcome back to It Came From Netflix, and as it’s St. Patrick’s day, this result was an unplanned surprise. So, let’s take a look at…
Director: Mark Hartley
Writer: Justin King
Starring: Charles Dance, Rachel Griffiths, Sharni Vinson
Patrick is an Australian remake of the 1978 supernatural horror movie of the same name, which concerns a young man stuck in a comatose state after an incident many years ago. When Kathy, a new employee at the hospital begins to take particular interest in Patrick, she begins to notice strange events occurring around her, as Patrick appears to begin reaching out to her, but no one else. But, as Kathy slowly uncovers the truth about her patient, what she discovers is not what she expected.
Okay, here’s where I stand with Patrick. In all honesty, I’m still not sure if the film is intended to be a schlocky throwback to cheesy 70’s horror, or if it’s just plain ridiculous. While I would love to give it the benefit of the doubt and claim it’s an effective slice of re-presenting retro horror for a new audience, I felt that the film given to the viewer was something of a mystery. Trying to capture the feel of an old romp is one thing, but being lost in your own intentions is something else entirely. While this might seem a bit like I’m giving the game away straight off the bat, but I don’t feel it’s right to review the film without saying that it’s utterly hopeless in its direction, and in all honesty it confused me, and not because it was smart, or complicated.
No, Patrick is, for all intents and purposes, a deeply flawed experience. But before I get onto the really bad stuff, let’s have a look at the positives. For starters; the performances here are spectacular in places. Charles Dance as the chilling Doctor Roget is wonderful, and a role I’d love to see him step into more, as well as Rachel Griffiths playing the cold, sinister Matron Cassidy. However, these moments of gold aren’t without their moments of crap alongside them. Martin Crewes as Brian Wright is truly woeful, jarringly so at times. In fact, one scene in particular had me questioning just what was going on, solely through his atrocious performance.
Another thing to mention is the film’s soundtrack. Whilst I can’t really say if this is intentional, but it gives off a camp, over the top vibe that the film fails to capture overall. However, where the piece as a whole fails, the soundtrack prevails. Exaggerated, ridiculous and cheesy, it strikes all the right chords when it wants to. In fact, when the film does have its silly moments (which, believe me, are in abundance here), it can all come together to work extremely well, and I’m fairly certain the soundtrack is the reason.
While I can’t comment on the plot here (as it’s a remake, I won’t question its original intentions, that’s one for its older brother), I do want to point out once again that Charles Dance’s character here is truly fantastic. If the film had focused more on this character, I think it could have been saved from its incredibly dull fate.
Now, we move onto the bad. For starters, the whole 95 minute experience is so messy that it can be hard to comprehend, especially at its breakneck pace. A coherent story is nestled in here somewhere, but it’s lost under the ridiculously grandiose setting and hammy set pieces. The movie may only be breaking the hour and a half mark by mere minutes, but it still manages to bore you throughout, partly due to its frustratingly drab colour scheme and clichéd jump scares, all of which are just too over the top and camp to fit into this modern re-imagining of a classic horror film that I’m sure at the time was very effective.
This is without mentioning that while the narrative is threadbare at best, it doesn’t stop the film attempting to hold your hand and lead you through the entire thing. The lack of respect for the viewers is alarming at times, given that we are often much further ahead than any of the characters in the piece at any given time.
Not that it’s usually something that really bothers me, but the film also just has this incredibly unbelievable air about it. The manor house being used for the good doctor’s horrific experiments is like something from a gothic fairytale, and given the use of iPhones and Google throughout the movie, this is glaringly out of place. In my view, it can’t even be argued that this is to preserve elements of the original, because it just spits all over any authenticity it attempts to create and just ends up aping genre stereotypes in a fashion that just sticks out like a sore thumb.
Lastly, the film has some of the worst special effects I’ve seen on a screen in a very long time. I thought The Posession was terrible, but Patrick really takes the cake. Shoddy models, obvious use of props and a truly unforgivable use of CGI to animate our titular character’s eyes closing just push the point home even further.
In summary, Patrick is an unremarkable, uninspiring and unnecessary remake of a film that I’m sure surpasses it in every single way. It’s messy, ridiculous and even some fantastic performances and a strong soundtrack can’t save it. Just another remake to throw onto the pile.
At this point, it really seems that mediocrity is Netflix’s bread and butter, and whilst the few gems I’ve found throughout this journey have been truly special, I wonder how much content on the service is actually worth seeing. But if there’s one thing I’d like to leave you with, it’s that I was probably a bit too harsh on Shifty.