As horror fans, most of us often experience a pull to one particular subgenre, but we still have strong appreciation (and often affinity) for other types of ‘scary movies’. You know how it is; sometimes I’m in the mood for a good ghost story. Other times, only a slasher flick will fit the bill. It’s not every day, however, that I sit down to one that seems a bit of both.
Patrick: Evil Awakens, from Phase 4 Films, caught me off guard. It came out of the gate like a Saw-esque, blood ‘n’ guts type movie (all dirty walls and dim lights), but quickly morphed into a beautifully shot gothic nightmare, straight out of a mid-sixties Hammer film. Atmospheric touches coupled with an adept soundtrack put me in a nice, creeped-out state of mind, perfect for a dark, moody flick. But it didn’t stop there, oh no; suddenly the film shifts gears and becomes a mystery, a moral dilemma, and even has elements of an extremely feck-tup kinda love story, all orbiting a tale of evil, psychotic obsession…
Hell, I was impressed; I haven’t been tossed back and forth by a story like that in a while.
A young nurse, Kathy, takes a job working for a doctor doing high-end research on restoring neurological function in patients with brain injuries, Doctor Roget. Apparently, he has been having trouble keeping staff around (although we’re privy to some of those reasons) and is impressed enough by her credentials to take her on. Going around with her for her orientation, we see the poor unfortunates that are here for the research; vegetative, severely neurologically-impaired or brain-dead subjects, lining a room without dignity, like so much meat in a locker. We are also introduced to Subject 15; Patrick himself, in a private room as he is the favorite of the good doctor; he maintains his muscle tone and a look of intense alertness on his face, despite his brain-dead condition. Because of these aspects, it is Patrick who is the focus of Roget’s experiments.
It’s not long before things start getting odd; aside from the usual spookiness of being around people that are there but aren’t really there, Kathy finds that the more she assists in the procedures on Patrick, the more she starts noticing strange happenings; people in her life acting totally out-of-character, things rattling that shouldn’t be rattling, weird nightmares, etc. Soon, she also develops a staunch suspicion that Patrick is completely aware of his surroundings; that maybe he’s not brain-dead at all…
I won’t spoil the fun for anyone, but from then on the film plays out beautifully; it’s not a fast mover, instead building the suspense as you wonder rather Kathy’s right, or perhaps delusional. As the tension mounts, things start happening more frequently, and more frighteningly. Just how much control does Patrick have over the world around him? Over Kathy herself?
I was amazed at the high-gloss look and feel of the film. The cinematography was fantastic; the setting of the research hospital is shown as massive and dark, yet at the same time claustrophobic. Equally impressive to me were the dynamic angles the director chose for many shots, and the slight filtering that gave it a bit of a washed-out feel, but with crisp detail; again, that old school horror flick vibe. The acting was top notch; Charles Dance was pristine in his depiction of the slimy Roget; Rachel Griffiths was remarkable as the Head Nurse, Matron Cassidy; and Sharni Vinson was brilliant, showing compassion, vulnerability and strength in her believable and sympathetic performance as Kathy. All of the performers were several cuts above what I typically expect from a horror flick; very refreshing. There’s treats for gorehounds as well, although they’re few, and it takes a while to get to them; peppered throughout the film are a couple of really nice effects, but the real goods come in the last reel.
I never saw the original 1978 film Patrick, so I went into this remake without preconception, and I’m glad of that. Watching this flick without any kind of expectation or foreknowledge was a lot of the fun of it; although there are a couple of misfires in the “jump scare” department, the film definitely succeeded in keeping me interested and maintaining a level of “something’s wrong here” that few films I’ve seen lately have done.
I say watch it, Fellow Fans; like all horror films, it won’t appeal to everyone, but my opinion is that there’s a little something for you no matter what your favorite subgenre is, and it’s all wrapped up in a well written, nicely done package.
I’ll be adding it to my collection; that’s the best two cents I can give.
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