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By Charlie David Page
13th October 2013

Is it strange to say you had fun watching a horror film? That's certainly the experience I had with 'Patrick', the latest Aussie horror flick to hit our screen. I can practically hear you groaning - but stick with me; this is not your typical Australian fare, and genre-wise is more a mix of classic horror and "old-fashioned Gothic chiller", as director Mark Hartley refers to it.

Nurse Kathy Jacquard (Shari Vinson) applies for a position at the Roget Clinic, a remote and rundown private hospital that cares for comatose patients. They're in no place to be picky about new staff, given the recent "disappearance" of their last nurse. Here Kathy meets Patrick (newcomer Jackson Gallagher) - a bed-ridden yet seemingly healthy patient whom mad scientist Dr Sebastian Roget (Charles Dance) and his uptight daughter Matron Cassidy (Rachel Griffiths) regard with both fear and distain. However, Patrick may not be as unresponsive as they all think - and the attention and concern Kathy pays the boy could eventually be her downfall.


'Patrick' is a remake of the 1978 movie of the same name (and both produced by Antony I. Ginnane), but for those familiar with the the original, only the core concept remains the same. In the past 35 years, technology has developed significantly, and our comatose titular character can now wield his powers via mobile phones and the internet.

If you're looking for subtlety, this film is not for you - Hartley is trying to make you jump, and succeeds frequently. If endless blood and gore is more your thing, this won't be up your alley either. What 'Patrick' does is balance suspense and gross-out, and isn't afraid to be a little bit silly at the same time.

A lot of fun was had by all on this film; the cast are clearly revelling in everything around them, from the Nazi-like uniforms to the ever-increasing body count. As with anything within the horror genre, almost every character is doomed from the beginning, and without giving too much away, the death of Rachel Griffiths' Matron Cassidy is one of the most eye-popping moments of the film. In fact, all of the lead cast seem to have delicious death scenes - most of the characters' demises are both unique and preposterously drawn-out affairs.

All of the lead cast seem to have delicious death scenes.

Most surprisingly, you'll also find less moments where you want to yell at the characters on the screen for making stupid choices than your average horror film. This seems to come back to the original script, with its pacy plot and dialogue that thankfully avoids the standard cringeworthy horror fodder.

However, timing and flow are a problem for 'Patrick'. The film is full of isolated scenes, sometimes no more than a few shots in duration, which show us a glimpse of action before a fade to black. The frequency and brevity of these scenes make the film a little choppy towards the middle - but thankfully, once the real action starts, it's smooth sailing.

Despite the relatively low budget of 'Patrick', it does look fairly superb - with exteriors taken from a late 19th century mansion in rural Victoria, the majority of the film is shot in a studio - and all the better for it. It's allowed the filmmakers to perfect the lighting and atmosphere in every shot, and the detail here is admirable. The film is constantly dark and sinister, with a blue wash over everything. Despite having a distinctive post-war feel, it brazenly features modern technology - a brave decision which inevitably pays off. Overall, it doesn't look like an Australian film - and honestly, without the accents to give it away, you could be anywhere in the world.

'Patrick' is certainly far from groundbreaking, whatever genre you end up putting in into. It does succeed in being a fast-paced, well-planned affair certain to make you squeam. Most of all, it is fun - if horror is something you can stomach.

RELEASE DATE: 17/10/2013
RUN TIME: 1h 36m
CAST: Rachel Griffiths
Sharni Vinson
Charles Dance
Damon Gameau
Peta Sergeant
Martin Crewes
Jackson Gallagher
DIRECTOR: Mark Harley
WRITER: Justin King
PRODUCER: Antony I. Ginnane
SCORE: Pino Donaggio
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