PATRICK (1978) Review

Directed by: Richard Franklin
Starring: Susan Penhaligon, Robert Helpmann, Robert Thompson

This Australian Psychokinetic film starts off with a boy named Patrick (Robert Thompson) killing his mother and her lover by throwing an electric heater into the bathtub. It probably would have been better if there was a more detailed background, but that's all you get. Anyway, then it cuts to a scene years later where Kathy Jaquard (Susan Penhaligon) is applying for a nursing job at some type of institution. After a brief chat with the bitchy matron, she is shown to her first patient who just so happens to be Patrick. It seems that for some unknown reason his brain has been damaged and he has been in a vegetative state for three years.

Dr Roget (Robert Helpmann) describes Patrick as "160 pounds of limp meat hanging from a comatose brain" but as the days go by it seems that he is in fact much more aware than anybody suspects. Strange things start to happen. Objects moving by their own volition, windows opening, doorknobs rattling. And for some odd reason the matron refuses to step into Patrick's room...
Eventually Kathy realises that Patrick has some sort of sixth sense in the form of psychokinetic powers. And bad things start happening to anybody who gets between them. She eventually works out a way to communicate with Patrick, but of course nobody believes her.

When I first read about the film it described Patrick as having terrifying powers, even the power to kill. So I was a little disappointed when I found that apart from the first scene where his mother is killed, there is only one other person killed in the remainder of the movie. And you don't even get the see it, only the body afterwards.

In the late 70's there were a string of psychokinetic films which tried to cash in on the success of 1976's Carrie, the classic Stephen King adaptation. And even if Patrick isn't the best, it is probably the most unique.
The acting is good, as is the writing and the use of camera angles helped to give it a creepy feel. But I personally found the movie to be a bit slow, especially with a running time of almost two hours. And the ending was very anticlimactic. It is a movie worth watching, especially if you are interested in Australian horror, but I personally thought that one viewing was plenty.

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