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  Patrick Creepy Coma
Year: 2013
Director: Mark Hartley
Stars: Charles Dance, Rachel Griffiths, Sharni Vinson, Peta Sergeant, Jackson Gallagher, Damon Gameau, Martin Crewes, Eliza Taylor, Simone Buchanan, Shane Nagle, Chris Fortuna, Rod Mullinar, María Mercedes, Camilla Jackson, Brendan Bacon, Carole-Ann Aylett
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: This Gothic old building in a remote region of Australia is home to a hospital, appropriately for its location housing patients who have been largely forgotten about by their family or friends, or merely do not have any who would be willing to visit them - or not have any at all. Among these neglected folks is Patrick (Jackson Gallagher) who like many patients there lies permanently in bed in a coma, largely unresponsive aside from the occasional tic or twitch. Into this depressing environment comes new nurse Kathy Jacquard (Sharni Vinson) who is introduced to the small staff: flint-eyed Matron Cassidy (Rachel Griffiths), far more friendly Nurse Williams (Peta Sergeant), and the head of the institute, the sinister Doctor Roget (Charles Dance)...

Just as Hollywood seemed intent on remaking all their old horror movies, and some of their newer ones for that matter, Australia got in on the act with Patrick which began life nearly forty years before as a Carrie-inspired yarn of telekinesis, a subgenre which flourished for a few years to take in the likes of Psychic Killer, The Dead Zone and another well-thought of Aussie horror, The Sender among many others. There was even an Italian unofficial sequel to this which gets a reference here, though you have to wait for it, but as far as Patrick went it was fairly fondly recalled for its way of taking a premise that could be rather absurd and going about it with commendable gravitas, not that it prevented the absurdity entirely.

In the case of the remake, it was that foolishness director Mark Hartley embraced wholeheartedly; the notion of a coma patient developing mental powers that could move objects and more importantly for the plot, kill people was very easy to portray in the most lurid terms possible, which was what the Italians had done, therefore Hartley appeared more keen on the European trash sensibilities than he was on the more muscular Australian strain of shockers that came out of the nineteen-seventies and -eighties. This was odd since he made his name with the celebratory documentary Ozploitation, something you had to presume had led him to try and find a cult property to refashion for a modern audience, and it wasn't only the Italians he was taking his cue from.

As the presence of a lush Pino Donaggio soundtrack indicated, Hartley was apparently imitating Brian De Palma into the bargain with setpieces where the title character wrought his mayhem depicted in operatic manner just as the director of Carrie would have done. Or at least how a fan would imagine De Palma would do it, because while imitation was the sincerest form of flattery, Hartley might have had the histrionics down pat, yet his tone suggested more enthusiasm than skill, with a preponderance of obvious computer graphics to achieve the effects he wanted. The original didn't have access to that, but on this evidence that was to its advantage since little took you out of the "reality" of a horror flick than blatant CGI, it was like seeing the puppeteer when you should be concentrating on the puppet.

Nurse Kathy followed much the same route as her predecessor, Susan Penhaligon in the source, and Dance's sadistic head doctor who pumped Patrick full of electricity in his experiments was at least a memorable display of medical arrogance, yet again subtlety shouldn't necessarily be a drawback in a chiller and this could have made more of the creepiness of the concept, something the original, though not perfect, capitalised on far more than this effort did in its mad dash to get to the horrors. Griffiths didn't get much more to do than essay a cut-rate Nurse Ratched, though Sergeant injected personality into what could have been a thankless second banana role, but it was Vinson who was our actual lead, again not bad but stuck with a rather vanilla heroine aside from Kathy's odd flights of fancy once she is caught up with Patrick's apparent plight. Underlining the computery aspects, he now communicated electronically rather than through a typewriter, not necessarily an improvement and likely to elicit groans when he starts sending texts. It wasn't dull, but too often lapsed into silliness.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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