mind control

Patrick: Evil Awakens (2013)

patrick

Patrick: Evil Awakens is a remake of a 1978 film about a comatose patient who develops telekinetic powers and an obsession with his nurse, Kathy played by Sharni Vinson (Bait, You’re Next). The film takes place in an old convent, now a private hospital for patients in a vegetative state. The hospital is run by the acerbic Doctor Roget, played by the inimitable Charles Dance (Game of Thrones, Gosford Park) and his daughter Matron Cassidy (Rachel Griffiths, Blow).

The film starts with the death of Kathy’s predecessor, who unlike Nurse Williams (Peta Sergeant, Iron Sky) an air headed nurse with zero curiosity and seemingly a lack of morals, got suspicious of the lengths Doctor Roget and Matron Cassidy were going through to ‘cure’ the patients. On Kathy’s arrival we are treated to a display of Roget’s treatment including electroshock therapy and large injections of luminous coloured fluids. After witnessing some of these traumatic displays Kathy begins to think that Patrick is not as comatose as he seems.

From his comatose state Patrick uses his telekinetic and mind control powers (mind control on the basis that all human brain activity depends on the firing of electrical impulses, a fact rammed down the viewer’s from the start) to contact and protect Kathy. Unfortunately for her and her two suitors, a local radio psychiatrist and her ex-husband who she took the job to move away from (who look very similar), Patrick’s version of protection is very dangerous for their health.

There are a lot of issues with this film, for example, why is the private hospital so dirty? Surely even privately run hospitals have to have a level of cleanliness. Also why are patients kept only in one room (apart from Patrick) in only boxers over the covers? The film is hampered by unnecessary and poorly executed CGI as well as a confused storyline. It is hinted at that Patrick’s powers are linked to electricity, if that is that case how can he control objects such as seat belts, surely they are not electrical?

There is very little to recommend this film to anyone, the only redeeming feature is the dry wit of Doctor Roget.

 

Rating: 1/5

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Dead Kids aka Strange Behaviour (1981)

Dead Kids

Dead Kids, or as it was later released, Strange Behaviour begins with the murder of a teenage boy in a black out. The first scene is a good set up for the feel of the film with a clever but unrealistic use of silhouettes to show the murder and a callous radio show presenter commenting on the drowning of several local teenagers. The film focuses around the Chief of police, John Brady played by Michael Murphy (Batman Returns, X Men: The Last Stand) and his son Pete, played by Dan Shor (Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Tron). Pete is an A grade student and needs to earn some quick cash for an application to the local college. On the suggestion of his friend, Pete volunteers to take part in a psychological study conducted by Dr Gwen Parkinson (Fiona Lewis) furthering the work by the deceased Dr LeSange (Arthur Digman). Dr LeSange, although dead still has a significant presence at the university with a dedicated office and presenting lectures via old films. It also transpires that there is history between John Brady and LeSange with Brady holding the doctor responsible for the death of his wife who was the doctor’s assistant.

As the body count increases, it becomes clear that the murders are not being perpetrated by the same person. With a brief description of the killer and the identity of the victims who are all children of the people who first investigated the immoral experiments of LeSange, Brady is led to think that the scientist is not as dead as first thought.

Although the film is made in New Zealand, it is set in Galesberg, Illinois and the whole cast are American actors, giving it the feel of a typical American film and as such has all the expected hallmarks of a Hollywood slasher flick including horrible surprises behind shower curtains and teenagers being murdered whist getting busy in the back of a car. Incidentally Illinois is where the director, Michael Laughlin (Two-Lane Blacktop) grew up. The soundtrack is typically 80s and comprises of electronic music, including music by Tangerine Dream and Pop Mechanix. The film has a soft focus look around the edges adding to the feeling of mind control and losing control that is central to the film.

The films finale is astonishingly tense and a great climax, although not wholly unexpected. The film rattles along at a fast pace, as it should being only 87 minutes long. Dead Kids is a not your usual horror film with an unusual plot and a lack of morality. Whilst some of the ideas may not be particularly believable, such as the spontaneous set dance at the party, I think that this is an underrated film from the era and I would recommend it to anyone. Dead Kids was originally intended to be the first in Laughlin’s Strange trilogy, however the third and final film was never made after the poor box office success of the middle film, Strange Invaders and after having watched Dead Kids/Strange Behaviour, I will be on the lookout for a copy of the second film.

Fun Fact: The teenager murdered in the very first scene is played by the screen writer Bill Condon, who went on to write the screenplay for Chicago and directed the final two Twilight films.