At a private clinic, a young nurse soon discovers that one of the comatose patients is quite sinister.At a private clinic, a young nurse soon discovers that one of the comatose patients is quite sinister.At a private clinic, a young nurse soon discovers that one of the comatose patients is quite sinister.At a private clinic, a young nurse soon discovers that one of the comatose patients is quite sinister.At a private clinic, a young nurse soon discovers that one of the comatose patients is quite sinister.
Through telekinesis, Patrick embarks on a one-sided romance with his pert, sympathetic caregiver, Nurse Kathy after she determines that he's not brain dead despite her administrators' claims to the contrary. How does Kathy figure this out? You must watch the movie to see it for yourself. Her strategy is surely lifted from a twisted scene in Dalton Trumbo's horrifying and controversial 1971 anti-war drama, Johnny Got His Gun.
Jealous of Kathy's paramours, and threatened by the hospital's director who has designs on him for sick experimentation, Patrick wreaks havoc by maliciously employing his special abilities. The idea isn't new; we saw it in the 1953 sci-fi movie, Donovan's Brain, based on Curt Siodmak's classic horror novel, about the possession of a scientific researcher by a willful tycoon, who exists as a brain kept alive in a laboratory tank.
In Patrick, Richard Franklin, who went on to direct Jamie Lee Curtis and Stacey Keach in the eerie Aussie, two-lane blacktop odyssey, Road Games (1981), and then brought us Psycho II (1983), does a pretty good job with this offbeat psychic concept by crafting Patrick into a straight- forward, memorable horror movie. The film was well-produced on a small budget, and despite a few flaws, withstands the test of time. Thirty six years later it's still a tensely compelling, watchable horror flick.
So why remake it?
With some exceptions, horror-movie re-dos often leave something to be desired. There have been a few good ones though. Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1978) and The Thing (1982) come to mind. Without losing any of the charm of the originals, these subsequent shoots effectively capture the essences of their predecessors. New technology allowed graphic, frightening special effects. But importantly, the new versions of these films don't rely on showcasing new technology. They were made to better communicate their respective stories, and the improved production techniques enhanced, rather than replaced, solid literary devices.
Sometimes however, horror movies lose something in translation when they're updated to a modern context and to our contemporary values. To skirt the problem of predictability, filmmakers frequently alter the endings. This can be a bad idea, because the scriptwriters usually got it right the first time. Changes tend to either miss the point entirely, or lose the impact of the original.
The remake of Planet Of The Apes (1968) is a good example of a movie with a second-rate, amended climax. It simply can't compare to one of the most dramatic endings ever in American cinema, when in the 1968 film, astronaut Taylor (Charleton Heston) rounds a bend on a desolate beach and comes face to face with the wreckage of a famous idol from his past. That one, now iconic, chilling frame instantly and powerfully communicates the ironic, emotional thrust of the entire film.
Wonderfully, documentarian Mark Hartley's 2013 revamping of Patrick, entitled Patrick: Evil Awakens, is a positive departure from the trend of lame remakes. The new version is faithful to the original, but subtly tightens up the script, introducing credible character motivations, and tweaking the timing to build additional suspense. With a bigger budget and modern cinematic tools, the new Patrick is sleek, tight, and appropriately much darker and creepy. Italian horror composer Pino Donaggio whose credits include Brian de Palma's Carrie (1976) and Nic Roeg's Don't Look Now (1973) contributes a sharp, sassy score.
The refinements do Patrick justice in a way which demonstrates that Hartley is a true aficionado of the first version, and not merely going through the motions to execute a more marketable update. While this 2013 edition succumbs to a few stock conventions such as the use of dramatic orchestrations to inflate non-crucial surprises, the movie is a top- notch, general consumption chiller. Patrick: Evil Awakens is genuinely scary, rich with gloomy atmosphere and eerie tension, but free of camp, and doesn't insult your intelligence.
- May 22, 2014