The general rule thumb for your everyday remake tends to go X wants to remake Y which is well loved by Z and then the internet explodes taking with it the lives of many innocents. And then there’s films like Patrick, which, upon the announcement of its remake, everyone seemed to just shrug.
Produced by the legendary, Antony Ginnane, and directed by Richard Franklin, the original Patrick is the simple tale of a coma patient with psychic powers. Patrick is Nearly Dead, cries the poster, And Still He Kills! Despite its Australian origins, it’s painted with a broad eurohorror brush. Interestingly, its Italian release would see Patrick being rescored by members of Goblin. Patrick seems to have bypassed the aforementioned online genocide simply by virtue of being so cult that it makes Meet the Feebles look mainstream.
Ginnane is back, bringing Patrick kicking and screaming into the 21st century. And this time he’s got Patrick fan and director of the wonderful Not Quite Hollywood, Mark Hartley on board. Like before, Patrick (Jackson Gallagher) is a comatose young man who is routinely experimented on by the nihilistic Doctor Roget (Charles Dance), much to the horror of the Nurse Kathy Jacquard (Sharni Vinson); a new employee of Roget’s clinic. Patrick and Kathy begin to build a relationship. When that becomes threatened by the clinic’s Matron (Rachel Griffiths), Patrick puts his psychic powers to ill use. Like Evil Dead earlier this year, Patrick strays very little from the path of its predecessor but tries to at least come across as its own beast.
Despite the very modern setting (Patrick can surf the web with his mind now!), Hartley invokes the creaky leather and cobweb flavoured breath of the best gothic films by Hammer Horror. Whilst Kathy tries to better understand Patrick, there’s also the mystery of the basement to uncover. It’s all very Jane Eyre (sort of). In fact, one has to wonder how much better this would have worked as a 1920s period piece without all Patrick’s googling. We digress…
Hartley has a firm hand on the proceedings and manages to wring enough scares out of the premise, even if there are one too many of the quietquietquietBANG variety. Meanwhile, Justin King’s script hacks away some of the flab of the 1978 original, to leave us with a plot that’s as lean as Patrick himself. King clearly has some fun with the story; throwing in numerous references to the original (yes, the frogs are back). However, not much use is made of the coastal setting that this remake finds itself in. Again, we can’t help but wonder whether this story really should have been set in 2013 at all?
The cast is strong. Dance stands out the most, as he seemingly savours his role as the world’s biggest shit. Jackson Gallagher as Patrick is, understandably, not given much to do and whilst his Edward Cullen-esque appearance will attract the Twilight fans (we can already see the fanfiction), we kind of miss the googly eyed nature of the original Patrick, Robert Thompson.
And yes, we’ve referenced the original numerous times. But it’s hard not to do so, when even the poster campaign invites you to think about the original before you even venture forth into the cinema: The Killer in a Coma Returns.
Patrick is solid remake (remix if you will) and will most likely appeal to those looking for a dark ninety minutes to kill the night, but whether it’s an essential horror flick is debatable.