Review: 'Patrick: Evil Awakens'

By: Heather Seebach

Remakes are such a stick up the ass of many genre fans but nothing shuts the haters up quite like hearing a legitimately talented filmmaker is attached to one. So when it was announced that Ozploitation classic Patrick (1978) was getting a re-imagining, there was all the usual uproar until everyone realized who was at the helm - none other than Mark Hartley, the man who introduced 90% of those whiners (namely, Americans) to Patrick in the first place with his wonderful Ozploitation documentary, Not Quite Hollywood. Admittedly, even I was not sure what to do with that information but I knew I had to see this movie.

Why would Hartley and NQH researcher/Patrick screenwriter Justin King want to help reboot a film they clearly held so dearly? For the same reason as other good remakes - the original film was stuck in the past and could be updated into something quite new. The basic plotline is the same: nurse Kathy (Sharni Vinson, You're Next) has just joined a remote hospital that treats coma patients and secretly conducts medical research. Kathy becomes fascinated with one patient in particular - Patrick, who seems to be communicating with her. Against the wishes of Dr. Roget (Charles Dance) and the head matron (Rachel Griffiths), Kathy forms a bond with Patrick but it turns deadly as he begins to exhibit dangerous telepathic and telekinetic abilities.

In some ways, updating Patrick is not effective. Specifically, the overabundance of weak CGI in this film hurts it. On the other hand, modern technology (cell phones, computers) is used in effectively creepy ways. The biggest way this remake differs from the original is the overall tone. While Richard Franklin's original payed homage to Hitchcock, this one more closely resembles a later generation of genre filmmakers - de Palma, Argento, etc. Despite coming 35 years later, this version of Patrick actually feels older in some ways. It has a more classic horror feel with its gothic seaside hospital setting and sweeping, dramatic camerawork. Hartley absolutely achieves an eerie atmosphere the original did not. 

The cast is solid, particularly Dance and Griffiths chewing scenery, and Peta Sergeant (Iron Sky) in a small but fun role as Nurse Williams. Vinson is not quite the ass-kicker she was in her last big horror film but she's good all the same. Patrick: Evil Awakens (as it is sometimes referred) is not super scary but there are definitely some chilling moments. Legendary composer Pino Donaggio (Carrie, Blow Out) scored this movie, so you just know the music is equal parts creepy and classy. 
Patrick has its flaws (those digital effects - ugh) but it's an effective, fun remake. Despite being a darker, more gothic version of its predecessor, it is peppered with a healthy dose of humor, including numerous jabs at the original film and its era. Whether you have seen the 1978 film or not, give this one a go. Even if you hate remakes, know that Hartley and King could probably wipe the floor with all of us when it comes to exploitation knowledge so trust these Aussies to get it right. 

Patrick: Evil Awakens hits select U.S. theaters this Friday, March 14th. 

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