Patrick is an enjoyably tacky thriller about a weird young man who murders his mother and her lover by tossing an electric heater into their bathtub. He promptly goes into a coma and winds up in a gothic private hospital for the insane where a sadistic matron (Julia Blake), an eccentric doctor (Robert Helpmann) and a handful of incompetent or uncaring nurses are in charge.Played by the sinister looking Robert Thompson, Patrick neither blinks nor speaks during the course of the film. Besides him, there appears to be only one other patient (Walter Pym) in the institution! So it’s no wonder that Patrick falls for new nurse Kathy Jacquard (undistinguished British import Susan Penhaligon). And then starts using his psychokinetic powers to try and eliminate her husband (Rod Mullinar), from whom she’s recently separated, and new boyfriend (Bruce Barry).
Everett De Roche’s screenplay adapts a range of genre stereotypes to a contemporary (1978) Australian setting - mad doctor, harridan matron, plucky damsel in distress leered at and exploited by men (there’s a tasteless reference to rape fantasies). Or at least it would have, if producer Anthony I. Ginnane weren’t so concerned to make an “international” film and disguise the Australian origins (unbelievably, the film still had to be dubbed for American audiences!). Director Richard Franklin gets in some useful practise for his next film, Psycho II, and accomplishes some neat shocks.Besides Blake and Helpmann, enjoying their unexpected foray into horror films perhaps a little too much, the cast of competent-but-unremarkable supporting actors adds to the B-grade feel. Some of the set pieces aren’t very well integrated into the story and are included only for shock value (the swimming pool sequence), the plot becomes increasingly silly and the film is about 20 minutes too long to maintain its suspense. But Patrick is otherwise an efficient Australian genre film, and certainly stands out from the historical coming-of-age dramas so prevalent at the time.