Monday, 8 September 2014

Patrick: Evil Awakens

The year was 1993. I was a fresh-faced eight-year-old boy, and after going through a bit of insomnia one night, I ventured downstairs in the hopes that a little telly would make me tired. Flicking through the RTÉ Guide (hello fellow Irish readers!) to see what was on, I eventually noticed that BBC had a film double bill coming up. Sadly though, it wasn't Die Hard and Predator or The Thing and They Live, no, they were films I never heard of before: The Changeling and Patrick. Both of them were horror films, which in hindsight the decision to watch two horror films alone, while a storm was brewing outside while being eight years old wasn't such a good idea. Both were 70's horror films too, which is pretty much the pinnacle of the entire genre. The Changeling was creepy and contained a frightening scene of a woman being chased by a wheelchair controlled by a ghost. Yeah, I know it sounds funny, but to my eight-year-old self it was bone chilling. Then there was Patrick, an 1978 Australian film. I didn't like it as much as The Changeling, but it was pretty unnerving, and was a great twist on the typical paranormal horror tale. That memory came flooding back when I started watching Patrick: Evil Awakens, a remake of that film I watched twenty years ago. However, while most remakes desecrate the originals, does this latest remake break that cycle?


Directed by Mark Hartley and out now on Blu-Ray and DVD comes Patrick: Evil Awakens, one of those remakes that in many ways surpasses the original. Taking a usually interesting change of direction from the typical set-up for a horror film, Patrick: Evil Awakens focuses on Kathy, a young nurse who begins a new position in an isolated clinic. Though it's business as usual for the most part, one comatose patient draws her interest. That patient is Patrick. Though the lead doctor tells Kathy that Patrick isn't even aware of outside stimuli, she begins to suspect differently. You see, Patrick in his current state has a powerful mind, and not only does he have the ability to move objects through telekinesis and influence the thoughts of others, but he can also access the internet. That last part sounds especially cheesy, but compared to its 1978 counterpart, this new power of Patrick's is a nice slick addition to the story, and makes for some creepy scenes. Events begin to take a turn for the worst as Patrick begins to become obsessed with Kathy, hell bent on keeping no one between them. It's a fantastic premise updated with a modern twist that doesn't tarnish the original film.


Much like the original film, Patrick: Evil Awakens doesn't sell itself on a huge special effects budget, jump scares or a shaky camera. Instead this films success is mostly down to the actors, particularity Sharni Vinson and Charles Dance, who play Kathy and Dr. Roget respectively. Sharni Vinson has a wonderfully interesting quality about her, portraying a woman who seemingly opens the Pandora's Box that is Patrick mind, while Charles Dance is truly excellent as Dr. Roget, who forcefully puts Patrick under all kinds of brutal experiments. They're complete opposites in every way imaginable, but ultimately both fear the potential that Patrick's mind might have.

The pacing and direction here is fantastic too. It's slow, intense and clear that director Mark Hartley knows how to produce an effective horror film. We're living an age where every second horror film is either done with a shaky camera or entirely first person. Patrick: Evil Awakens uses none of these modern film crutches, and the result is genuinely creepy. Even the visual look of the film is excellent, that while it's clearly a modern day story, it still retains a Gothic, classic horror mood to it, somewhat comparable as to what The Woman in Black achieved.


Overall many won't see Patrick: Evil Awakens. It has a bit of a cheesy name, has no major noticeable stars in it (apart from Lord Tywin, of course!), doesn't have a major CGI budget and doesn't follow the generic horror formula. But if you're a horror fan and want something different and unsettling, check it out! Don't let this one go unnoticed.

Patrick: Evil Awakens has a much-deserved sleep in and gets a 5/5.

[★★★★★]

Denis Murphy


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