Netflix Roulette: Patrick

Those of you who read my weekly roundup from Sunday may remember that I said today’s movie would by the fiftieth film I would be writing up. Well, that was before I realized I never added my write-up of 10 Cloverfield Lane to my spreadsheet. So, in reality, that honor goes to The Den… this makes me very sad. So, instead of doing something special for write-up number fifty-one, I decided just to get back to grindstone and play another round of Netflix Roulette (I guess I’ll have to wait until number one hundred to do something big (I am planning on making it to one hundred (I just can’t say how long it will take me))). The good news is that the universe made up for my disappointment with a film that may actually crack my top-ten (you’ll just have to wait until Sunday to find out).

Patrick (released under the title Patrick: Evil Awakens in the US (which, makes it sounds like a dumber film than it is (and hence while I’ll be referring to it by its original title (but I figured I should include the US title in case any of you look for it on Netflix (and I suggest you do (not to give away the end of my write-up)))))) is an Australian film from a couple of years back. It is a remake of a 1978 film of the same title (which, I haven’t seen (though I plan on looking it up soon)). It falls under the category of Ozplotation, which, until doing a quick bit of research for this movie, I had never heard of. I actually fell down a bit of a Wikipedia wormhole and spent far too much time clicking around titles and discovering what is meant by the term. I’m not going to spend time here discussing it (perhaps I’ll revisit it in a Random Thoughts post later in the week), but it’s worth researching. The basic plot of the film revolves around Kathy a nurse who begins working at a small research facility that experiments on comatose patients. One patient in particular, the titular Patrick, draws her attention. Soon we realize that the attention goes both ways and Patrick begins to invade her life… mayhem ensues.

I found Patrick to be extremely charming. The filmmakers (writer Justin King and director Mark Hartley (who apparently normally shoots documentaries)) are clearly going for a B-movie vibe in the vein of Re-Animator and Braindead (A.K.A. Dead-Alive)… though, this movie is a bit slicker than its muses. I think this approach is why I enjoyed the film so much… the filmmakers new what this movie was and didn’t try to make it anything more (or less)… it was a true realization of their vision. For example, there are some pretty awful CG effects and while I would usually find this distracting, they seem to be used on purpose for a slightly comedic effect. The phrase “slightly comedic” may also explain why this movie works so well. Every time I expected the film to break out into full comedy-horror mode, it pulled back. At most, the comedy elements are tongue-in-cheek. An example of this would be the sheer number of jump-scares in the movie. Again, while I would normally finding this distracting and annoying, it works here. This is especially true when the filmmakers pile on four or five jump-scares in a row. After scare number four the viewer should be tired of the conceit, but by number six we’re back in. In other words, the filmmakers are using comedy elements in a horror film to great success (noticed I said comedy elements and not comedy… these are not funny moments but they use joke structure in their scares… it’s fascinating). Perhaps the only weakness in the film is that there aren’t many truly scary parts. Don’t get me wrong there are a couple of truly creepy moments and couple of gags that are pretty gross… but that’s it. Then again, by minute ten of the film I think you’ll realize that that’s not really the point of the movie. There are a couple of other elements that worked for me, but may chase away other viewers (that is not meant to sound condescending… I’m just acknowledging that there are different tastes out there). First, the score is very in-your-face, bombastic, orchestral music. I found this distracting at first and then delightful. Again, the filmmakers are applying another comedy element (exaggeration) to mess with the viewer. Second, the director uses interesting transitions between certain scenes. It can create an over-stylized feeling that can pull the viewer out of the movie… but again (to use English slang (which seems at least somewhat appropriate here) it feels a bit cheeky and fun.

I’m not saying this is the perfect movie (there aren’t much in the way of surprises and if you start pulling at threads of the plot it will fall apart), but it’s a fun ride… and after the selections from last week, I really needed a movie like this. One overall takeaway from this movie is, that based on my last year of intense horror-movie watching, I think I’ve come to the conclusion that Australia and New Zealand are winning hands down.

I realize this is a somewhat shorter post than usual but sometimes It’s easier to write when you pulling apart a film then when you’re praising it.

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