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John’s Horror Corner: Patrick: Evil Awakens (2013), a mediocre medical-mystery horror remake of the 1978 classic.

January 11, 2020

MY CALL: You were probably hoping for something more like The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016) or Eli (2019)… but instead you’ll get a haphazardly written script masked by strong production value and a decent cast. This was juuuuuust on the cusp of being regrettable. I guess I didn’t hate it, but I certainly don’t recommend it. MORE MOVIES LIKE Patrick: The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016) and Eli (2019) for more recent fare. But, one may venture the original Patrick (1978) along with Demon Seed (1977) and The Manitou (1978).

Newly employed as a nurse at the very private Roget Clinic, Kathy (Sharni Vinson; Bait, You’re Next, Blue Crush 2) is hired on to tend the clinic’s comatose patients which serve as Roget’s research subjects. The remaining staff include a cold “Nurse Ratchet” type, Matron Cassidy (Rachel Griffiths; Six Feet Under) is stoic, by the book, and loyal to her employer and father (Dr. Roget); and contrastingly Nurse Williams (Peta Sergeant; Castle Rock, Iron Sky) is friendly and sociable. The staff supports Doctor Roget (Charles Dance; Game of Thrones, Dracula Untold, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Underworld: Awakening) in his mysterious and unethical research.

Gore isn’t abundant nor does the movie rely on it, but it’s effective when present. The film wants to be a more cerebral mystery-horror. Early on we know something is wrong—like, supernaturally wrong. Some manner of telekinetic phenomena occur, haunting dreams involving patients, some “involuntary muscle responses” of the comatose are more than a little suspicious, and frightful reflections of… ghosts? Probably.

REMAKE/REIMAGINING SIDEBAR: For more horror remakes, I strongly favor the following: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), An American Werewolf in London (1981), The Thing (1982), The Fly (1986), The Mummy (1999), The Ring (2002), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003), The Hills Have Eyes (2006), Friday the 13th (2009), Let Me In (2010), Evil Dead (2013), Carrie (2013), The Town That Dreaded Sundown (2014), It (2017), Suspiria (2018) and Child’s Play (2019). Those to avoid include The Thing (2011; a prequel/remake), Poltergeist (2015), Cabin Fever (2016), A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010), Night of the Demons (2009), Body Snatchers (1993; the second remake), The Invasion (2007; the third remake), War of the Worlds (2005) and The Mummy (2017). I’m on the fence about An American Werewolf in Paris (1997), Halloween (2007), It’s Alive (2009), My Bloody Valentine (2009), Fright Night (2011), Maniac (2012) and Pet Sematary (2019), which range from bad to so-so (as remakes) but still are entertaining movies on their own.

Directed by Mark Hartley (Not Quite Hollywood, Machete Maidens Unleashed!, Electric Boogaloo), this remake of the 1978 original has the feel of a 90s-to-early-2000s video-era horror movie executed with a modern budget, sheen and manicured cast. However, the financial sleekness fails to transcend the silly title and the choppy writing, which takes us from scene to scene without appropriate staging of the events to come. This was especially evident in the first act where it’s almost as if occasional scenes which would have made more sense of the story were cut out entirely, leaving a mildly confusing mess of the surrounding scenes.

Some of these early scenes turn out to be dream sequences (serving no other purpose than to catch viewers off guard), but other equally confounding scenes are not dreams. By the middle of the movie, the writing is more cohesive, but the story itself remains shanty. So far, the first two segments of the movie have the feel of entirely different movies… and the third act is yet full-tilt different. It’s like there was a 90-page script and a completely different set of filmmakers made the first, second and third 30-page thirds of it only to have all three stitched together into this haphazard shifty-toned movie.

Even the very depictions of telekinesis develop from weak spiritual tremors, to poltergeist jolts, to complete sorcerous control—essentially from “mystical” to Magneto! And during this transition, the tone goes from serious and mysterious, and then wanders into crazy town as random things happen that don’t really make any sense… for example, a bunch of puppeteered coma patients chanting “Patrick wants his hand job.” Way to keep it classy! That little moment was especially odd considering how “not raunchy” the rest of the movie is.

Wandering into spoiler territory, this weakly-written story seems to grab at concepts better executed in The Lawnmower Man (1992), White Noise (2005) or The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016) with such notions of beckoning the help of the living from the beyond; and such ill-replicated technological manipulation as seen in I, Robot (2004) or Eagle Eye (2008). Yes, Patrick grabs at big concepts but seizes a firm grasp on little beyond a marginally passable way to spend a sleepy afternoon on the couch.

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