Some Memories, And Coma Patients, Are Best Left Alone
Mark Hartley‘s Patrick, is currently on Netflix, and is surprisingly a engaging little horror film (before it jumps the rails, that is). I was expecting something silly, on the level of an Asylum feature, it was actually pretty engaging, before the aforementioned rail jumping.
Charles Dance brought a much needed sense of dread and gravitas to things, and he reminded me somewhat of Peter Cushing of Christopher Lee, both of whom possessed the ability to make sub-par material at least interesting.
Unfortunately, no one–other than the writers, or maybe Edward Norton–can do anything to make a silly story less so, or help a movie regain the goodwill its lost (misplaced somewhere around the half-way mark).
Events unfold place almost entirely in a moody villa that houses the Roget Clinic, where Doctor Roget (Dance) experiments on his patients, assisted by his daughter, Matron Cassidy (Rachel Griffiths).
As of late the doctor seems particularly preoccupied by Patrick (Jackson Gallagher), whom was somehow put in a comatose state after murdering his mother and her lover.
Roget is particularly fond of electroshock therapy, as well as a drug that will look eerily familiar to anyone that’s seen Re-Animator. If he’s able to bring Patrick out of his coma, it will prove that his theories are correct, and enable him to regain the fame and notoriety he once had before a fall from grace (something involving illegal experiments probably similar to those he’s currently performing, I’d guess).
As far as the idea goes–the human body is–in a very real sense powered by electricity–it at least sounds logical. A problem is that Charles Dance plays the role so damn sinister that if he’d smile just once, who knows what evil deeds he’d be able to get away with. As things stand, he doesn’t and it doesn’t exactly take Sherlock Holmes to figure out that the good doctor is doing something that he probably shouldn’t.
Though that’s a relatively minor quibble.
The real problems begin when Patrick somehow develops telekinetic abilities (I doubt that this was Roget’s intent, because he’s entirely clueless as to what’s going on) or one he possessed before he was put into a coma.
Though what it does is turn what could have been an interesting haunted asylum movie (why did Patrick have to be behind the weird happenings at all? Why couldn’t some presence be using his comatose body as a gateway into this reality?) into a significantly less interesting, bedridden version of Stephen King’s Carrie.
As you can probably tell, I am not too crazy about the telekinesis angle, though I would have been thankful for it if I had any idea what was coming next. Because, Patrick not only has the power of telekinesis, but he can also control electrical devices, from cars to cell phones. I assume that this had something to do with the electroshock treatments (electricity, and particularly electrocutions, is a running theme in the movie).
So, as Patrick moved from Carrie to The Lawnmower Man, I moved almost as quickly from patience to irritation because the movie has some decent scares and some atmospherics Guillermo Del Toro would be proud to of, all of which are undermined by a highly unoriginal story and what’s perhaps the silliest death for an antagonist in awhile.