DVD REVIEW: PATRICK – EVIL AWAKENS / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: MARK HARTLEY / SCREENPLAY: JUSTIN KING / STARRING: SHARNI VINSON, CHARLES DANCE, RACHEL GRIFFITHS, PETA SERGEANT / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
A remake of the 1970s horror of the same name, Patrick: Evil Awakens brings the story to the present day while retaining much of the same plot and themes.
Young nurse Kathy Jaquard begins working at a mysterious remote care facility for comatose patients under the stone-faced observation of Matron Cassidy and the obsessive Dr Roget. She soon learns of the doctor’s pet project, a young man named Patrick whose physical form remains perfect despite his condition. It soon becomes apparent to Kathy that Patrick may be more aware than anyone realised, as well as being in possession of hidden abilities.
Produced as part of the Ozploitation movement of the ’70s and '80s that gave us titles like Mad Max, Long Weekend, Turkey Shoot and The Cars That Ate Paris, like many once-shocking films the original Patrick has lost much of its impact, so producing a remake in this case is not quite as redundant as it usually is.
Rising horror star Sharni Vinson (Bait, You’re Next) is as engaging as ever, portraying equal parts inexperience and determination. She can certainly scream with the best of them, although Kathy’s vulnerability is at times belied by Vinson’s stunt training, making her appear far more agile and physically durable than she should be. Kathy’s gradual realisation of that far from being a victim, Patrick is just as thoughtless and selfish as everyone else she encounters forms the backbone of the story, along with her discovery of the true extent of his psychokinetic powers.
Charles Dance has practically made a career of playing characters defined by an aloof condescension stemming from believing everyone else to be his intellectual inferior. Roget is no exception, his disregard for anyone else’s opinions or emotions mark him as just as potentially villainous as Patrick himself. Providing occasional relief from the Gothic gloom of the setting is Peta Sergeant (Iron Sky’s cleavage-sporting PR queen Vivian Wagner) as Nurse Williams, a vibrant dynamo of a woman, who since Kathy is the protagonist and everyone else is not particularly likeable, remains the one character you genuinely fear for.
Less a remake in the true sense, this is more of an update of the original film. Patrick’s communication via mentally manipulating a typewriter is changed to a computer screen, conveniently set to a 72pt font so we can actually read what’s on it without extreme close-ups, while the importance of the ever-presence of electricity is signified by a lot more than the incessant buzzing of a neon sign. A few choice lines from the original also manage to find their way into the script; a roomful of comatose patents chanting “Patrick wants his handjob” is particularly effective.
A decent remake of a lesser-known film, Patrick: Evil Awakens keeps the spirit of the original alive while managing to forge its own distinctive identity.