Patrick has been one of those horror films where for as long as I can remember I’ve heard about it but just hadn’t managed to see it. So for this 31 Days Of Horror challenge I thought to myself ‘now is as good a time as any’, so I placed it on my list and put it down for Day 1. I am glad I made this decision because Patrick is an absolutely fantastic film.
Australian cinema is something that definitely passes me by, it isn’t that I am not a fan of home grown films, they just seem to pass under my radar. But then I saw Not Quite Hollywood (whose director is actually remaking this film), and it opened my eyes to all of these amazing looking Ozploitation flicks, and I honestly felt like I was missing out. Who knew we had so many films from a genre I enjoy immensely? Patrick as it stands is probably a cut above the rest, perhaps one of the best horror films I’ve seen from this country, and you know what? I wish I had gotten to it sooner.
The story is a simple one, Patrick is a comatose patient, we don’t really know how he got that way but he did electrocute his mother and her lover one night. He spends his days at a hospital, being a guinea pig of sorts. But the people who work at the hospital fear him, for strange events seem to occur around him. This leads us to Kathy who gets a job at the hospital and her first task is to look after Patrick. She begins to figure out there is more going on, and it becomes clear that Patrick wants Kathy all to himself.
Yes it is a strange premise, and one I wasn’t sure on how it’d play out. But director Richard Franklin set this up as a slow burner, and in such a way we actually care about Kathy and it builds up suspense. It is done so cleverly, I was actually really engaged in the story, and was left wondering what strange events would happen next. The film is brilliantly paced, with the different reveals happening at just the right moments, the suspense built up so effectively, that the pay offs are handled so well.
I was really impressed with Susan Penhaligon as Kathy; she turned out to be just wonderful. Her performance is natural, and she really became such an engaging presence. Equally good were Rod Mullinar as Ed her husband and Bruce Barry as Brain a Doctor friend. Robert Helpmann was pretty crazy as Doctor Roget, and I just loved his performance. Julia Blake was fantastic as Matron Cassidy; she played that cold boss figure to a ‘T’. Huge credit goes to Robert Thompson as Patrick, who speaks no words, he doesn’t move, he lies there without blinking. But his natural look made him creepy, and there was just something about the way he played it that made it seem like there was a lot going on behind Patrick’s eyes.
I had a blast with this film; I can see where others have paid homage to it (looking at you Kill Bill) and others that have tried to emulate it. This may well go down as one of my favourite Australian films, and a fine addition to the horror genre in general. Richard Franklin did such a great job; he really channeled some Hitchcock and just had a great understanding of each element. Some of the shots are done so well, from the composition, to the lighting. The sound design was fantastic as well; I really loved how subtle some things were, which then made the jump scares that much more affective. I was so impressed by this, Richard your talents will be missed.