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PATRICK (2013)

After the mysterious disappearance of a nurse, Kathy (Sharni Vinson) takes up the vacant role at 'Roget Clinic', a private hospital for the clinically comatose in a remote seaside town. Kathy is placed under the imperious watch of Matron Cassidy (Rachel Griffiths) and Dr. Sebastian Roget (Charles Dance) a renegade neurologist operating at the fringes of medicine. Despite her strong sense of foreboding and the dismal working conditions, Kathy overlooks the eeriness of the ward and the disturbing patients. She is fascinated by a mysterious patient, who is simply known as Patrick (Jackson Gallagher). It soon becomes apparent that Patrick has telekinetic powers and his affections for Kathy turn into a deadly and bloody obsession, letting no one get in his way.

Review by Louise Keller:
Screaming violins counter the eerie silence of comatose patients in this startling and terrifying horror film in which obsession and control are its main themes. A remake of Richard Franklin's 1978 Ozploitation film starring Robert Helpmann and Julia Blake, director Mark Hartley's take with Charles Dance as the insane doctor and Rachel Griffith as the stitched up matron is chillingly good, creating a wonderfully creepy atmosphere and leaves us decidedly jumpy. Antony I. Ginnane, sitting in the producer's chair for the second time, should be well pleased with the result that is sure to attract a cult following and good word of mouth.

Hartley gets our attention from the get-go with an eye-catching sequence in every sense of the word - involving a pretty nurse wandering through dimly lit corridors of the remote and foreboding medical facility. Our journey takes place through the eyes of the film's protagonist, effectively played by Sharni Vinson (Step Up 3D) as the compassionate nurse Kathy Jacquard who is trying to escape from her own life. There is something decidedly strange about the place and Hartley manages to capture the juxtapositions of tone and mood beautifully.

Dance dishes out superiority by the syringe, Griffith underplays with Mrs Danvers-esque austerity and Peta Sergeant as Nurse Williams bubbles with a quirky brightness that is so out of place among the brain-dead but breathing corpses, that we are constantly kept on edge. Then the focus of our gaze goes to Patrick (Jackson Gallagher in his debut feature), with his handsome features and perfect muscle tone, lying immobile, except for an occasional unexpected involuntary muscle reaction. Kathy notices Patrick and Patrick (comatose and all) seemingly notices Kathy. So begins a relationship in which the emotion of love is more dangerous than that of hatred. The development of the relationship between Kathy and Patrick is beautifully paced, adding more and more unsettling elements as the exposition unravels. Performances are all excellent with incidental characters that are woven into the fabric of the film adding additional texture and edge.

There are scares galore as Hartley makes full use of all the tricks of the genre to create unease, ensuring we are always kept in the dark. There are flickering lights, strange sounds, electric malfunctions, dark shadows and blood - lots of it. If you're a pussy cat like me, you may look away on numerous occasions - such is graphic nature of the disturbances. Garry Richard's constantly moving camera accentuates our discomfort and if armchair terror is your adrenalin, you'll get high on Patrick. Pino Donaggio's glorious discordant orchestral score is a standout, making the hairs on the back of our necks stand up, never letting up and always keeping us tightly on the leash. Bloody scary!

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
One of the unseen stars of Mike Hartley's resurrection of Patrick is undoubtedly the Czech Symphony Orchestra - and another is veteran composer Pino Donaggio (who scored the classic thriller, Don't Look Now [1973], among others, and wrote the 1965 hit song, You Don't Have To Say You Love Me). It's a classic underscore for a horror movie, and could well have graced one of Hitchcock's films. Indeed, Hartley makes no bones about the fact that the master is his cinematic mentor here.

It's a film that'll be most appreciated by lovers of cinema, especially aficionados of the horror genre - not the new wave but the old school. Not for Hartley the hand held camera and badly framed shots but the carefully designed framing with calibrated lighting to show and hide in turn.

Although the story is much the same as the one written by Everett De Roche for the 1978 movie - also produced by Antony I. Ginnane - the treatment embraces modern technology, at least as far as mobile phones, computers and the internet are concerned. The rather creepily charming nature of most of the medical equipment adds a welcome retro mood.

Hartley's nose for casting is evident, with Charles Dance a marvellous choice as the obsessed Dr Sebastian Roget, and he plays it with just the right balance of professorial grumpiness and demented medical nutcase. Rachel Griffith has a great time as the ice queen daughter and all controlling Matron, who has an interesting journey in the plot.

Centre stage is Sharni Vinson as Kathy, the new nurse at the Roget Clinic, who strikes up a relationship - what!? - with the comatose patient in room 15, Patrick (Jackson Gallagher). The latter has the most challenging role, having to remain immobile and open eyed while mayhem unfolds. But all the cast are great, Peta Sargeant a standout as Nurse Williams.

The 1978 film broke out as an international cult hit, and while those were different times, this new version has a lot going for it, too, not least the seamless effects that provide the dark horrors and the shrill chills.

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PATRICK (2013) (MA15+)
(Aust, 2013)

CAST: Rachel Griffiths, Charles Dance, Damon Gameau, Jackson Gallagher, Peta Sargeant, Eliza Taylor, Martin Crewes, Rod Mullinar. Simone Buchanan, Maria Mercedes

PRODUCER: Antony I. Ginnane

DIRECTOR: Mark Hartley

SCRIPT: Justin King (1978 screenplay by Everett De Roche)


EDITOR: Jane Moran

MUSIC: Pino Donaggio


RUNNING TIME: 96 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 17, 2013

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