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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Patrick
Patrick
Elite // PG // November 19, 2002
List Price: $24.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Adam Tyner | posted December 15, 2002 | E-mail the Author
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Along with their releases of such notable horror titles as Re-Animator and The Evil Dead, Elite Entertainment's specialty has been in unearthing long-forgotten cult gems. Following several DVD releases of Philippe Mora's films, Elite has shifted its attention towards another Australian director, Richard Franklin (The Blue Lagoon; Psycho 2). Produced for less than a quarter of a million dollars and taking home an armful of awards at various film festivals, Patrick weaves the tale of a bedridden young man whose immobility is more than compensated by the psychokinetic forces raging inside him.

Robert Thompson stars as the titular Patrick, a young chap whose mental faculties more or less shut down completely after murdering his mother and her man-toy. Alive by only the loosest definition of the word, Patrick has spent the past three years comatose in a hospital room, hovering in that gray expanse between life and death. That unexplored territory is the principal reason why so much time and expense have been invested into keeping Patrick from keeling over, explains the sadistic Dr. Roget. Always in need of qualified help, the clinic's stern matron grudgingly takes the recently-separated Kathy Jacquard on-board, assigning her to the troubled patient in room 15.

Patrick almost immediately endears himself to Kathy in much the same way he has the other staff: by spitting on her, then playing the "innocent vegetable" card. Kathy, far more forgiving than I'd be in the same situation, comes to enjoy her time with her silent, salivating patient. The past three years have given Patrick the opportunity to develop psychokinetic abilities, allowing him to move and manipulate objects with a passing thought. Kathy's convinced that there's more to Patrick than is visible on the surface, but the rest of the staff dismisses her claims as pure fantasy. After a...stimulating experiment Kathy takes it upon herself to perform, Patrick is smitten, willing to devote every erg of his mental might to overcoming the obstacles standing between him and his one-sided romance.

Patrick's approach to suspense is methodical and effective, in keeping with the director's barrage of Hitchcock references on the disc's audio commentary. Disregard the "extremely bloody" blurb provided by Video Movie Guide on the packaging. Patrick is light on the grue, limited to a couple of scratches, a pair of burned hands, and a glimpse of a charbroiled corpse. As simplistic as an invisibly-manned typewriter and cuts of the matron approaching a doorknob may sound, these moments remain extremely effective close to a quarter-century after Patrick made its theatrical debut. That's not to say that Patrick is a thrill-a-minute rollercoaster. Despite having taken home a "Best Achievement In Editing" award from the Australian Film Institute, it would probably have benefitted from some moderate tightening of its close to two hour runtime. Though several of the movie's central characters aren't developed beyond the expected three or four word summaries ('the hard-nosed matron', 'the eccentric doctor'), the performances put forth by the cast are all relatively strong. Patrick holds up remarkably well after 25 years, dated only by the synthesizer squawks that accompany Patrick's mental blasts in the movie's final moments.

Though not nearly as loaded with supplemental material as their Millenium Edition releases of I Spit On Your Grave and Re-Animator, Elite has assembled a decent package for Patrick's debut on DVD.

Video: Unlike the bulk of Elite's output over the past couple of years, this 1.78:1 widescreen presentation of Patrick is not enhanced for 16x9 televisions. The relatively clean print doesn't exhibit much wear, and the tiny white flecks that appear are too small to present much of a distraction. Fine detail and clarity are lacking, and the drab palette often leans heavily towards the yellow end of the spectrum. Patrick is also awash in film grain, perhaps the result of the non-standard stock Franklin admits to having used in the disc's commentary track. Visually, Patrick isn't representative of the best of Elite's releases to date, but it's more than passable and certainly shouldn't discourage a purchase.

Audio: Patrick sports an unremarkable Dolby Digital mono soundtrack. The score suffers the most, often coming through as shrill and dated, but dialogue remains clear and discernable throughout. Nothing terribly unusual for a film of its age and obscurity.

Also available are dubs in French and Spanish. The French cut of the film excised much of a sequence where the matron comes to check up on Patrick. Accordingly, that portion of the film is silent when viewing Patrick in French, and there's a disclaimer to that effect on the disc's insert.

Supplements: Director Richard Franklin contributes a solid audio commentary, and, through the magic of editing, he's joined briefly around 46 minutes in by writer Everett De Roche. Franklin touches on virtually every possible topic, including Patrick's real-life inspiration of a suicidal man whose plummet to death didn't hinder his ability to spit. His influences range from Hitchcock to Jaws to Oscar Wilde to, if only subconsciously, Chuck Jones. Franklin goes on to discuss cuts imposed upon him by his American distributors, the storyline for an aborted sequel, and the possibility of a remake. Also tossed out are innumerable technical notes about how certain shots were accomplished and lengthy discussions of the cast and crew. As he admits late in the track, Franklin does occasionally fall into the trap of watching the movie rather than talking about it, but that's a minor quibble for an otherwise excellent commentary. Franklin makes reference to deleted scenes in the commentary, but that footage is unfortunately no longer available.

There are also a pair of battered theatrical trailers. The three minute full-frame Australian trailer is presented alongside a considerably shorter anamorphic widescreen American promo. Elite has also provided filmographies for Richard Franklin, Antony I. Ginnane, Everett De Roche, Susan Penhaligon, Robert Helpmann, Rod Mullinar, Bruce Barry, Julia Blake, Helen Hemingway, and Robert Thompson.

The Easter Egg mentioned on the disc's packaging is accessible through the special features menu by highlighting the hidden Potassium Chloride formula. Not to spoil the fun, but the hidden feature is a still gallery consisting of two different soundtrack releases (featuring music by Goblin rather than Brian May, and no, not that Brian May) and a theatrical poster.

Patrick boasts a set of attractive, easily navigable animated menus and is divided into 24 chapters.

Conclusion: Plucked from obscurity, Elite has assembled a respectable DVD release for this long-overlooked film, even if it's not quite up to their usual standards. Patrick is recommended as a purchase and highly recommended as a rental.
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