Movie Review: Patrick: Evil Awakens (2013, Dir. Mark Hartley)

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When creating remakes, there seems to be an inherent concern among filmmakers to not step on the toes of the original, while also remaining true to the core concept of their film’s cinematic predecessor. At times, those most familiar with the property will surprise us all by modernizing the remake, sometimes using their expertise to represent the original film almost identically. There’s a stroke of genius within that mindset which also functions as the film’s harshest critic — as if it’s the filmic equivalent of following in a successful parent’s footsteps, but veering off the path ever so slightly.

Patrick: Evil Awakens definitely feels as if it was bred in this vein, offering an entertaining and thrilling update on Richard Franklin’s Australian cult classic. Documentarian and Australian genre cinephile Mark Hartley plays surrogate to Franklin, all the while updating the beats of the story to accommodate the realities of this day and age. Luckily, Hartley’s approach is mostly effective, and from the apparent competence from his cast and crew, Hartley’s old school aesthetics and passion for the material keep Patrick: Evil Awakens from falling into irrelevance.

Patrick: Evil Awakens follows the original closely in terms of narrative structure, focusing on a young, compassionate nurse as she uncovers the secrets of a mysterious hospital and its extraordinary comatose patient, Patrick. The story delves into the psychopathic and supernatural, and that in itself brings a strange balance between a nuanced atmospheric dread and a reliance on jump-scares. However, what the tone of this remake does allow is for the film to invest more in its characters and their relationships, even if it comes at the price of explaining just how Patrick acquired his powers in the first place.

Patrick: Evil Awakens has a stellar cast of both newcomers and acting veterans, all of whom do a fine job of breathing life into the feature’s morally complicated characters. You’re Next final girl Sharni Vinson once again proves to be versatile and formidable as a genre lead, adding convincing emotion to the standard audience proxy protagonist. Rachel Griffiths, Jackson Gallagher, and Charles Dance all bring the creepiness in a big way, and even evoke sympathy in their desperate, inescapable situations. Peta Sergeant also does a wonderful job as the only seemingly normal nurse at the residency, and her friendship to Vinson’s character feels incredibly realistic and infectiously charming.

Patrick Poster

From its sleek cinematography to its abundance of CGI, there’s no doubt that Patrick: Evil Awakens is a more technically proficient update to the material, but thanks to Mark Hartley, the film isn’t far removed from the original in its tone or atmosphere. Hartley wisely uses his strong cast to his advantage and earns most of the frightening moments as a result, even if the material does divulge into sillier territory at moments. However, even that appears to be cognizant from the filmmakers standpoint; a result of darkly tinted humor with inspiration from the often outrageous subculture of Australian genre cinema. Patrick: Evil Awakens may not be terrifying or shocking in its content, but it’s entertaining and genuine, and that’s respectable in its own right.

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