Patrick’s director, Mark Hartley is responsible for the incredibly great 2008 documentary ‘Not Quite Hollywood’ about the Australian exploitation film scene of the 70s and 80s. If you’ve not seen it, please do soon. It is an excellent, affectionate and wildly fun documentary that introduced me to a host of wild, crazy Aussie films I never knew existed. Whether or not his reworking of the somewhat obscure 1978 film Patrick came out of the process of making that documentary, I do not know. But if that’s the case, I have even greater affection for the thing now because I really enjoyed the hell out of Patrick and am glad it turned out (overall) as well as it did.
Much credit for the film’s success goes to the three main leads: Rachel Griffiths, as the profoundly cold Matron Cassidy, Charles Dance as the dry, prickly (and ultimately crazed) Doctor Roget and Sharni Vinson as Nurse Kathy Jacquard. There is not a breath of air’s space between these three in terms of acting and it really keeps things balanced and solid. If one of the three leads were, shall we say, less than stellar, it’d drag the whole affair down. This is because, primarily, Patrick is a somber, gothic type of thriller-story that could not abide by scene-chewing by some enormous name or flatness by someone not as skilled as the three leads here. In particular, Miss Vinson is solid as a rock as the put-upon nurse who draws the attention of the obsessive and telekinetic coma patient Patrick. She is, without a doubt, one of the more enjoyable, grounded female leads I’ve seen in genre stuff this year (with this and You’re Next) and I cannot wait to see what she does next.
The story follows Nurse Kathy (Vinson) as she takes a position at a remote care facility for coma patients (after a seemingly tough split from her husband) and becomes the object of affection for a seriously screwed up coma patient (played by Jackson Gallagher). Things go from sort of spooky to frustrating to dark and creepy to a bit gonzo through the course of the film and my only wish is that the extremes were even more, well, extreme. I would have loved if they’d pushed the envelope even more in terms of Patrick’s abilities playing havoc with those around him but, that isn’t a major issue. He does a fair amount of damage. Having not seen the original for several years now, I can’t remember it as clearly as I’d like but thankfully, blessedly, the introduction of new technologies (computers, cell phones etc) is a great help to the story, not a cheezy throw-in for time’s sake.
I recognize that some won’t go for the atmospheric chilly vibe of Patrick and the screwy obsession angle that the story relies on but if you can dive into this darkly comic and unexpectedly weird world for a bit and just go with it, you may very well have a good time with it. I definitely did.