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Old 07-29-2006, 08:04 PM
Scored: 8
Views: 8,533
Default Patrick

Reviewer: Rhett
Review Date: March 9, 2003

Released by: Synapse
Release date: 7/30/2002
MSRP: $24.95
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 1.78:1 | 16x9: Yes

Psycho is a film about the insane sprung from sexual frustration and the mother. Patrick too, is a film about such things. In fact, there are several similarities between the two films, which is not really surprising considering Patrick director, Richard Franklin, would later go on to make Psycho II. Sprung from the sexual 70ís, Patrick was the film that temporarily put Franklin on the map, allowing him to do bigger and better projects. Itís been nearly 25 years since Patrick was released and now, thanks to Elite, a new special edition DVD has been made of the film. Is Patrick a good film, or will it leave the viewer in comatose?

The Story

inline ImageThe film begins like many other late 70ís films, with a couple having passionate sex. This couple is not a pair of teens however, it is the mother and her lover of the psychotic Patrick (Robert Thompson). While they make love, Patrick sits in the room beside themÖlistening. After intercourse, the couple washes up together in the bathtub, laughing and toying with one another. The passionate mood becomes severely altered when Patrick trudges into the bathroom with a heater. Patrick stands there, hate burning behind his eyes, staring at his promiscuous mother. Without remorse he throws the electric heater into the tub, killing both his mother and the threat to his bond with her.

inline ImageThe story jumps three years to a small hospital, where Patrick lies in a coma, apparently kept alive by life support. He needs two nurses to constantly attend to him, and luckily for the hospital, the young and newly single Kathy Jaquard (Susan Penhaligon) has just applied for a nurseís position. She gets the job and begins attending to Mr. Comatose. Sheís been told by the sinister doctor, Dr. Roget (Robert Helpmann), that Pat is merely a vegetable, his only actions being the ability to spit at random intervals. Kathy soon learns however, that there is more to Patrick than meets the eye.

inline ImageWhile making spelling errors during a memo typing, Kathy begins to fathom the notion that perhaps Patty isnít unconscious after all. She asks her nouveau beau, Dr. Brian Wright (Bruce Barry), whether or not Patrick could actually be telekinetic, or even conscious, and he suggests the possibility of a sixth sense. No sir, Patrick does not see dead people, but a few dead people do pop up because of Patrickís powers. Patrick loves young Kathy, and he will do anything in his power to keep her from leaving him. This puts her romantic interests at risk, and she must thus battle with the telepathic psycho before it is too late.

inline Image At nearly two hours, Patrick is a little long winded, but it is a suspenseful and well-made little shocker and well worth the effort of tracking down. There is no gore and hardly any blood; this is a film about suspense, like many of the works of Alfred Hitchcock. When it comes to Hitchcock, Franklinís admiration and influence of the master far surpasses even the largest devotees, like Brian DePalma. The film is seeping with references to Psycho and Rear Window, be it the imposing outdoor shots of the hospital, the theme of the psychotic sprung from devotion to the mother, or the solemn outdoor voyeur shots on Dr. Wrightís patio. Although the Hitchock influences run high, the film and the script are fresh enough to not seem derivative. The story is compelling, and is not afraid to leave the viewer waiting in suspense.

Richard Franklin creates the suspense admirably, by exhibiting restraint even when the tension is mounting. There are several wonderful moments of camera movement and manipulation, but it remains at a lingering and ominous speed. The camera movement is never kinetic; it is slow and therefore suspenseful, building suspense by remaining composed. There are plenty of characters and plot points in the film, but it never seems overbearing or confusing, because of Franklinís ease of direction.

inline ImageIn the commentary, Franklin mentions how excellent Robert Thompsonís performance of Patrick is, but the praise must really be given to Richard Franklin himself. Thompson does little else but stare off into the distance through the entire film, but because of the way his scenes have been edited and photographed, he truly appears as a threatening and unsettling presence. Considering the film is largely about expectations and the unconscious rather than action and violence, it was imperative that Patrick himself be a frightening character. Had Patrick not been frightening, the movie would have failed to achieve any eon of suspense. But Patrick the character is frightening, and because of that, so is the film.

inline ImageIt is easy to make a horror film about blood and carnage; the true challenge comes from creating suspense. Patrick succeeds largely because of the talented direction by Richard Franklin, which does deliver jolts and shocks, but ultimately impresses because of its ability to leave a lasting impression. Patrick stays with the viewer long after the final credits roll; he slowly creeps into the subconscious. This is not a film about what does happen, but what is going to happen next. This is a solid film, and one that should not be forgotten!

Image Quality

inline ImagePatrick is presented in 1.78:1 non-anamorphic widescreen, and looks decent. Like Eliteís other release, The Incubus, this transfer looks washed out and lacking vibrancy. There are some print blemishes, but overall the print is fairly clean, especially when one observes the condition of the included trailers. There is some grain present, but the print actually looks quite clear for the most part. The real problem with this transfer however, is its lack of anamorphic enhancement. The DVD format has been running for 5 years now, and there is no excuse for not providing anamorphic treatment on every widescreen title. As it stands though, this is probably the best the film will ever look, and it isnít all that bad.


Elite gives the viewers the language choice of English, French or Spanish, but unfortunately all are in mono only. The mono track sounds clear, and better than most older films, which is especially impressive considering the filmís extremely low budget. The Herrmann-ish string score comes across nicely, and never intrudes on the dialogue. This mix is nothing spectacular, but it serves the film just fine.

Supplemental Material

inline Image The Patrick DVD starts up with some slick motion menus and continues with some interesting menu transitions. As far as supplements go, there are a few little goodies Elite saw fit to include on this release. First off, there are a handful of filmographies, as well as a couple of trailers. The Australian trailer is well done, but oddly cuts off at the end. The American trailer is great and really sets the mood of the film without really giving anything away. There is also a little easter egg accessible to those familiar with typewriters.

Most substantially is a commentary by Director Richard Franklin. He is very vocal and extremely interesting to listen to. Those interested in the filmmaking process will be tickled pink by the depth to which Franklin describes some of the elements of the filmís production and setup. He looks back very fondly on the film, and his anecdotes about conversing with various filmmaking legends like Hitchock and John Ford are a real treat. At about the 45 minute mark, a poorly recorded interview with Screenwriter Everett De Roche occupies the commentary momentarily, where he describes his inspirations for the film. Franklin then continues until the end of the picture, and continues to impress with his knowledge about the filmmaking craft. This is a great commentary and should make this a must have disc for Patrick fans.

Final Thoughts

A suspenseful and entertaining film right down to the last minute, Patrick is a reminder of how films can be scary without being bloody. The image is unfortunately lacking anamorphic enhancement, and the sound is only in mono, but the excellent commentary track makes this a solid purchase. Fans of the film will eat this disc up, and those who enjoy the suspense films of Hitchcock should certainly pay Patrick a visit.


Movie - A-
Image Quality - C+
Sound - C+
Supplements - B+

Technical Info.
  • Color
  • Running time - 1 hour 54 minutes
  • Rated PG
  • 1 Disc
  • Chapter Stops
  • English Dolby Digital Mono
  • French Dolby Digital Mono
  • Spanish Dolby Digital Mono

  • Commentary with Director Richard Franklin and Writer Everett De Roche
  • Theatrical Trailers
  • Easter Egg
  • Filmographies
  • Animated Menus

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